Cemetery candle stall in Ljubljana

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.

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

 

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