Light a penny candle??

Posted by Word Camel on September 19, 2004

In Reply to: Light a penny candle?? posted by Emmecat on September 19, 2004

: Does anyone know what the old (presumably english) phrase 'to light a penny candle' means? My understanding is that it was not a favourable comment to make and that one would leave a penny for the person to light the aforementioned candle with. I've searched everywhere for an answer- hope you can help me!

I vaguely recall that in some Catholic churches it was possible to light a candle as a sort of prayer of sympathy for someone - perhaps even yourself. You'd put a coin in the box to pay for the candle. Perhaps the larger the candle the greater the cost. Maybe some of our contributors who grew up around that sort of thing could say.

I'm guessing a penny candle wouldn't have lasted very long so to say that one is lighting a penny candle for something or someone is to say that he isn't really very concerned at all.