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What is a Candle Passing?

What is a Candle Passing?

Public Service Announcement! Since recently becoming engaged, I have had numerous questions from people outside of the Graceland bubble about the tradition of candle passings. It is a fun, but not entirely common practice. So here we go, a crash course explanation of candle passings.

When someone gets engaged, the first thing they usually want to do is tell everyone, but, if they are from Graceland, the opposite of that is true. A woman at Graceland who has recently acquired a fiancé will keep the whole thing very hush-hush, telling only a House President or a few friends who they trust to keep the secret too. The reason an HP is told is because they will be the one to host the candle passing event. Here at Graceland, the candle passing itself usually takes place in the Tess Morgan Lobby. The designated HP will hang signs announcing the candle passing around the girl’s dorms, though occasionally a few guys show up.

Now on to the fun part, the actual candle passing! Girls begin to gather in a circle in the lobby at the time that has been posted.  The engagement ring is tied to a candle, and then the candle is passed around for all of the girls to look at. People will inspect the ring, and they often make guesses as to who has a finger that will fit the ring. Sometimes, during this phase of everyone looking at the ring, quotes about love and marriage will be read off by different people in the room. Once the ring has made it around the full circle, the HP in charge will then stand in the middle, calm all of the excited chatter, and light the candle. After the candle is lit the passing begins. The HP will hand the candle off to someone in the circle. That person will then pass the candle to someone else, usually to someone they believe to be engaged. This process continues until the bride to be is revealed. When one person receives the candle three separate times, one of two things happens. The recipient will either pass it on again, thus clarifying that it is not them who has gotten engaged, or they will blow the candle out. Blowing the candle out means that it is in fact that person who has gotten engaged. Everyone gets really excited and really loud at this point. The room absolutely erupts! Then, after it quiets down again, the woman who everyone knows is now getting married tells her engagement story. Everyone listens to the tale of the proposal, and lots of hugs and pictures follow. It is an exciting experience that lends itself to some truly fun memories.

There it is, a Graceland University candle passing. They are a pretty big deal on campus, and it is something really special for a lot of people. For those who were curious as to how the process worked, hope that this was helpful in understanding the tradition.

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