Cemetery Candle Sales in Slovenia: an Abbreviated History

Not a history really, just some scattered notes in an attempt to attach some numbers to this image that only begins to illustrate what a massive industry cemetery candles are here in Slovenia.

This is a picture of a stall in Ljubljana’s central market, taken on Saturday; in this case the Saturday before Dan Mrtvih, or Day of the Dead, when more than half the country will visit their local cemeteries and leave new candles very similar to these.

If you haven’t experienced it, you’ll have little idea what I’m talking about. The numbers are pretty staggering, given the country’s small size and population of just over two million.

Recent data –the most recent I’ve been able to track down after a quick bit of research– shows that Slovenians light between 6,000 and 7,000 metric tons of cemetery candles annually, placing Slovenia at the top of the charts along with Austria and Poland. That’s some 23 million candles, averaging 12 per person.

According to figures cited in this story in The Slovenia Times, those 23 million candles accounted for 3% of the country’s total waste in 2011. That figure dropped dramatically to about 15 million the following year after, but waste remains a major problem. About 5,870 metric tons of candles were sold in 2012, with less than half, about 2,400 tons, recycled.

By one candle manufacturer’s estimate, more than one-third of the annual number will be lit and left on Tuesday, the Day of the Dead holiday. Most of those bags above were empty by the end of the afternoon.


Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 1,031st straight, was snapped in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 29 October 2016.



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  1. jaimelazarte says

    Interesting report on the cemetery candle sale and use in Slovenia. This afternoon, I was trying to associate of different cultures remembering the dead or associated with the dead on days close to the end of October and beginning of November; starting with Dewali in India on October 30, Halloween in USA on October 31st, Dia de los Muertos in Mexico on November 1st, and Day of the Innocent on November 2nd in Spain and Peru.

  2. Manja Mexi Movie says

    Well, in Slovenia eternal fire got a bit short. 😀 Was talking about this to amore just yesterday and compared it to the Italian sensible way of paying a fixed annual sum to the cemetery and then they keep the (artificial) candle going for a grave of your choice non-stop. Even though you can also see steadily blinking candles that work for quite some time in Slovenian cemeteries more and more, it’s true that only lighting a real candle will do it, for my family too. I think this is a remnant of living in a socialist republic: one does not go to churches, but feels one has to do something at least once a year. You know – in case. 🙂

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