The Everyday Lore Project

14 November 2020 – Nell Gwyn, The French Revolution, and Diwali

14 November 2020 – Nell Gwyn, The French Revolution, and Diwali

Today was one of those days where the folklore just fitted. It’s the 333rd anniversary of the death of Nell Gwyn in 1687. Nell was mostly famous for three things, for being an actress, for having the ear of the King, and for her oranges. 

And today, according to the French Revolutionary Calendar, we are in the second month of Brumaire (from the word meaning mist), on the 24th day (corresponding to our 14 November), which day name is Orange. 

So after looking at uses for oranges other than for snacking and drinking, I decided to make candles out of the peel. For it is also Diwali (meaning Day of Light), the third day of the Festival of Lights celebrating the New Year for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. 

The literature and YouTube videos all said it was easy to make candles out of orange peel. Yes, well. All you have to do is hollow out half an orange leaving the pithy stalk, tip in some cooking oil, and light the pithy ‘wick’. But given that five out of my six halves didn’t work, I think I might have missed something. 

I tried three techniques. The first was hollowing out the half using a sharp knife and a grapefruit spoon (one half got tossed after the knife pierced the skin which would have caused leakage). The second was cutting the skin along the half, prying everything apart, and gouging it out with my fingers. Which strangely was much less sticky than the first method. The third was, when the wicks refused to light, put the halves in the oven to dry them out (my kitchen smelled superb).

Finally, after a long time of using bamboo skewers as tapers as my matches kept burning out, I gave up. Much to my surprise only the Seville I’d cut with the knife worked. The Navels had not very compliant wicks. In fact, they were a pithy nightmare.

I have to admit, the candle is rather beautiful, and it’s starting to smell slightly less like sunflower oil and more like orange. Which is always a bonus. Now it’s just a matter of working out what to do with the delicious leftover innards.

Happy Diwali!


The Everyday Lore Project has been running since St Distaff’s Day on 7 January 2020 and will run until 12th Night on 6 January 2021. And everyday since St Distaff’s Day I’ve been writing about experiencing the ritual year and other folklore. So subscribe and get a daily dose straight to your inbox. After all there’s only another 53 days left to go…

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

2 comments on “14 November 2020 – Nell Gwyn, The French Revolution, and Diwali”

  1. Glorious Barbara says:

    It must have got on your wick trying to get them to work.

    1. It really got on my wick.

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