Symbolism of Fire

by Mark Hughes
Olympic Torch

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Fire has had a very significant role in humanity's development. Its varied uses show the importance of fire for humankind. Some of those uses have been:

Read more about the History of the Olympic Torch, Flame, and Relay.

  • In Ritual: many cultures saw fire as being a supernatural force. For instance, the ancient Greeks believed fire had divine origins, see the story of Prometheus, and maintained perpetual fires in front of their temples.
  • Light: Fire has provided illumination through the ages. When people go camping they light a fire to cook, be warm, and to keep the darkness of night at bay; this is as close as many people will get to existing with fire like their ancient ancestors did.
  • Warmth: The air can get cold after the sun goes down, especially during winter. Fire has helped keep humanity warm through the ages.
  • Cooking: Before ancient humans learned how to use fire, all of their food had to be eaten raw.
  • Protection: Fire provided humanity with protection, through its light and heat, against the many animals that might have attacked or hunted them.
  • Creation: The ability to use fire as a tool has helped humanity invent and develop many things and techniques, ranging from smelting metals to providing enough thrust to blast ships into space.
Did you know?
After Greenland, New Guinea is the largest island in the world.

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