Behind the Bayberry Candle Scent and Traditions

Updated January 28, 2020
Bayberry candles have a sage green color

For many people, the fragrance of bayberry candle scent is reminiscent of Christmas and New Year's traditions. You can recapture those memories and the joyous emotions associated with them every time you light a scented bayberry candle.

Bayberry Scented Candles From Bayberry Wax

The scent of bayberry candle wax is often said to be strong and full-bodied. This naturally aromatic wax possesses a unique fragrance that has become a classic holiday scent. However, the scent of bayberry candles does not appeal to everyone. Common descriptions of the fragrance of bayberry candles include:

  • Slightly bitter
  • Having sweet berry overtones
  • Woodsy
  • Piney
  • Sweet

Bayberry First Scented Candles in the New World

Bayberry candles were the first scented candles made in colonial America. The early settlers of the Eastern coast quickly discovered they could make candles from the wax residue that resulted from boiling the bluish grey berries of the bayberry shrubs.

Bayberry Scented Candles Pleasant Change From Tallow Candles

The sweet-smelling bayberry candles were a welcome change from the tallow candles, typical of the times. Tallow candles, made from animal fat, burned with a foul odor and released a lot of soot.

Two Bayberry Varieties

Two types of bayberry shrubs, the Myrica Pensylvanica known as the Northern Bayberry and the Myrica Cerifera known as the Southern Bayberry, were plentiful along the entire Eastern coastline The prolific growing plants reached as far west as Texas.

Two Bayberry Varieties

Bayberry Oil Extraction Process Tedious

The National Candle Association (NCA) describes the extraction process as being too tedious and time-consuming, so the colonial women stopped making the bayberry scented candles. Even today depending on moisture availability, it still takes from three to fifteen pounds of bayberries to make a single pound of bayberry wax. The bayberry candles burned cleanly since they were made from natural wax.

Bayberry Candle Traditions

The colonists are said to have treasured their special bayberry candles. They considered them luxuries and saved them for special occasions. Many colonists lit their bayberry tapers on the eve of a special day such as Christmas or New Year's. As years passed, more people lit their candles on those special evenings and the tradition of burning a bayberry candle at the holidays began.

Bayberry Candle Scents in Modern Traditions

The tradition of burning a bayberry candle on Christmas or New Year's Eve is still practiced today. There isn't any religious significance to burning a bayberry scented candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. However, it's a long-standing tradition in certain U.S. regions, such as the Northeastern states.

  1. You can either choose to light their bayberry candle on either Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, or both.
  2. Some people recite the Bayberry poem while other follow a religious tradition of reading a Bible verse about the birth of Jesus.
  3. Allow the candle to burn down completely, or until it goes out on its own, to bring prosperity and happiness to those in the household.

Bayberry Natural Scent and Wax

Traditional pure bayberry wax candles generally do not have any additional scent added. The wax itself is all that is needed to provide the wonderful fragrance.

Scented Beeswax Blend Candle, Large, Bayberry
Bayberry natural scent candle

Beeswax and Bayberry Wax Blend

Some companies make bayberry candles that are a blend of bayberry wax and beeswax. The blended wax is not as brittle as bayberry wax alone and is less apt to be damaged during shipping.

Non-Bayberry Wax Bayberry Essential Oil Candles

Another type of scented bayberry candle is made from a type of wax, or wax blend, other than bayberry. A bayberry fragrance or essential oil is added to the wax to give the candle a bayberry scent. Popular wax choices include:

  • Paraffin
  • Soy
  • Beeswax

Where to Find Bayberry Scented Candles and Fragrance Online

The Internet offers many excellent websites that offer a variety of bayberry scented candles and fragrance. Some companies specialize in one type of candle, such as a pair of taper joined together by the same wick or pillar candles.

Allegheny Candles

Allegheny Candles offers beautiful authentic bayberry tapered candles that are perfect for holiday traditions. Each bayberry candle comes with the Legend of the Bayberry Candle and a copy of the Bayberry Candle Poem. In addition to authentic traditional bayberry candles, Allegheny Candles offers bayberry scented votives. Although these candles are made without bayberry wax, they still provide the bayberry scent at a much lower cost.

Candles Off Main

Candles Off Main offers real bayberry wax 10" or 6" taper candles. The candles are sold in pairs that are attached together by the same wick. These hand-dipped candles are made from real bayberry wax with a smidge of beeswax to make them strong. The candles don't have any chemicals, artificial colors or artificial fragrance and feature a cotton wick.

Cape Candles

Cape Candles offer real bayberry wax candles from a pair of 8" or 10" tapers (one pair or a dozen) to 8.5 oz votives. Wild harvest bayberry candles are also offered in 22 oz jars and votive bayberry wax candles. A unique blend of bayberry and cedar with cinnamon leaf, thyme and Patchouli and 8oz or 16 oz, wild harvested bayberry in a tapered bark pot is a blend of

Bayberry Candle Poem

The traditional Bayberry candle poem is often recited whenever it's lit. Many candle companies include a copy of the poem with their bayberry wax candles.

"This bayberry candle comes from a friend

For Christmas Eve I do send

For a bayberry candle burned to the socket

Will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket."

Enjoying a Bayberry Candle Scent During the Holidays

You can find several authentic bayberry wax candles on the market. You can enjoy the pleasant aroma of the natural scent these candles produce for a magical touch to your Christmas or New Year's celebration.

Behind the Bayberry Candle Scent and Traditions