For those of you that do not know me personally, when referring to my national heritage I consider myself a Scandinavian Mutt. My ancestors are from Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Hungry. Needless to say, other than a few cultural foods, I am not really in touch with heritage.
My husband on the other hand is Finn and other than a few members of the family that married into it, the whole family is Finn. I love spending time with his family because they are so in touch with their heritage including speaking fluent Finnish often.
My husband introduced me to a beautiful Finnish tradition that I wanted to share with you today.
Ice Candles are a Finnish tradition that started in Finland during the 1920s as a way to honour the dead in cemeteries. It became very popular during the Second World War as a way to honour the soldiers.
It has since evolved into a Christmas Tradition and a way to bring light to the darkest days of winter. Let me tell you, pulling into the driveway and seeing the candles glowing in the dark is so beautiful. We make several every year and scatter them around the house, mostly by windows so we can look out and enjoy them.
How to Make Ice Candles
The simplest way to make Ice Candles is to fill a 5 gallon bucket with water (hot seems to make it more clear than cold). Set the bucket outside on level ground on a cold night and leave over night. This part depends on the temperature, 12 hours is usually enough time, but if it is really cold at night 12 hours could be too long and the water could freeze solid.
Once the the water is semi frozen on the outside of the bucket and there is a layer of ice on the top, you'll still be able to hear some of the water sloshing around when you pick it up. At this point we bring the bucket into the house for 15 minutes to half an hour. It thaws the bucket enough that the ice will separate from the bucket.
Take the bucket back outside and gently flip it over. The unfrozen water will spill out (so make sure its not somewhere people walk) the sides and bottom, if thick enough, will remain intact creating a vessel. Move the ice candle to the location you want it then insert a candle and light it. Depending how much room you have left in the vessel you can light tea lights, votives or pillar candles, which ever your preference.
This is the simplest method, there are kits you can buy to make them and these kits are made so that the vessel is frozen into the mold. This allows you to add a little creativity by adding branches or berries.
For fun this year we added food colouring to a couple of the candles to make them more fun for the kids.