Say It with Candles

by Cindy Julia Tobing
11th February 2022
There seems to be an inimitable draw to a lit candle, its transporting scent and the right company to share it with. As Valentine’s Day approaches, noted homegrown candle brands share a thing or two on the item’s romantic reputation and its burning appeal on special occasions.

There’s no specific science to explain what makes candles so romantic. There is, however, a physiological relationship that exists between scents, memories and emotions. 

It’s no wonder then that the rosy association between candles (especially scented ones) and romance has been enduring and agreed upon by many. One can simply look up familiar scenes of candlelight dinner, a by-the-beach proposal with a lit walkway, or his and hers personalised gifts, to know that candles have always had a romantic reputation.

The growing demand and popularity of candles in recent years, which also coincides with the rise of homegrown candle brands, further show that their resurgence has surpassed their illuminating function. From great smelling scents to handsome branding and packaging, local brands specialising in fragrant candles weigh in on the item’s burning appeal in setting a romantic mood. 

“The flickering light that draws a sensual shadow, the pleasant scent that tags along, all these elements create an atmosphere that is private, enclosed and personal—touching the inner urge for love and affection,” said Wiwi Juventia, founder of premium scented soy candles Duft and Chandelle that launched in 2014.

On their association with romantic settings, Wiwi opined, “I think we’ve seen it too much from popular culture! Same like roses, it seems that candles are embedded in our minds as a mood-maker and something essential when there’s love involved.”

So in special moments like Valentine’s Day, where couples usually rack their brains to give the perfect moment or gift for their significant others, candles easily become the item that always fits the agenda. Wiwi observed this pattern through Duft and Chandelle’s sales records and tracked what their customers like to buy. 

There’s the Paeonia and Beaumaris from the brand’s Classic collection, customers’ long-time favourites due to their versatile scents. “Especially during Valentine’s Day, many gravitate towards Paeonia to replace flowers and chocolate, as [the scent] is feminine and classic. While this year, Beaumaris, which is outdoorsy and adventurous, has been rising in popularity as a gift for the gentlemen.” 

“From there, I think candles could instantly change our feelings while breathing romance and relaxation into the space.” – Raisa Nafila of Scene of Wonders

Scene of Wonders, a home and body fragrance company, equates the candle lighting experience to romance itself. Gorgeous outward appearance aside, lit candles and their scents can conjure emotions of joy, warmth and memorable moments, “just like falling in love,” as the brand’s creative and strategic planner, Raisa Nafila, would say.

To Raisa, candles pack an inimitable charm from the light they produce to the aroma that gives it character. “From there, I think candles could instantly change our feelings while breathing romance and relaxation into the space.” 

Founded in 2020, the brand’s lineup of candles and diffusers is quick to attract many; not only for its illustrative packaging but also fragrances that are rooted in Indonesia’s natural wealth and culture. Take the Bergamot Cashmere Salak, one of its signature scents that boast the country-native fruit ingredient. Surprisingly, it is also the more popular buy during Valentine’s in comparison to others in the lineup. “The salak ingredient is definitely what attracts first. Then, people kept repurchasing it for its bold and fun scent.” 

As for Zenjiwa, candles and romance go hand-in-hand for the intimate and emotive sensation that comes from good-smelling scents, dimmed lights and flickering flames. To brand director Christine Hasibuan, this trio combination “creates a sense of warmth, and when enjoyed with a company, it creates a different atmosphere and helps relieve a specific memory.” 

Also launched in 2020, the brand’s collection of scented stone tablets, room sprays and candles centres on the feeling of contentment and how they can create a sanctuary to one’s space. This is reflected in their nature-inspired scents, while their handcrafted and sleek-designed candle vessels are made to be used more than once. 

For Valentine’s, Christine singles out the floral and earthy notes of Iris from Zenjiwa’s three signature scents of Oud and Gimlet. “The scent is warm and powdery, and it’s especially loved during the celebration.”

Of course, these candles and their specialised scents can surpass the Valentine’s Day tag to fit any occasion to one’s liking. The annual celebration, after all, is a universal expression of love that shouldn’t be reduced to a single day. As Wiwi of Duft and Chandelle keenly pointed out, Valentine’s Day “is too often made out of as an object of sentimentality and commercialisation, when it should be able to be celebrated every day.”