A torch is a fire source, usually a rod-shaped piece of wood with a soaked in pitch and/or some other flammable material wrapped around one end. Torches were often supported in sconces by brackets high up on walls, to throw light over corridors in stone structures such as castles or crypts. This traditional use of the word lives on in the Olympic Torch, procession torches and the like.
A torch carried in relay by cross-country runners is used to light the Olympic flame which burns without interruption until the end of the Games. These torches and relay tradition were introduced in 1936 Summer Olympics by Carl Diem, the chairman of the event because during the duration of the Ancient Olympic Games in Olympia, a sacred flame burns inside of the temple of Hera, kept in custody by her priestess.
If a torch is made of sulfur mixed with lime, the fire will not diminish after being plunged into water. Such torches were used by the ancient Romans.
Procession torches are made from coarse hessian rolled into a tube and soaked in wax. There is usually a wooden handle and a cardboard collar to deflect any wax droplets. They are an easy, safe and relatively cheap way to hold a flame aloft in a parade, or to provide illumination in any after-dark celebration.
Juggling torches are often used as a prop in toss juggling: they can be flipped into the air in an end-over-end motion while being juggled, in the same manner as juggling clubs or juggling knives, but because of their sound and 'trail of flame', they can appear much more impressive to audiences. To a skilled juggler, there is only a slight chance of being burned, but they are still dangerous.
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Famous quotes containing the word torch:
“Patriotism. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.”
—Ambrose Bierce (18421914)
“Thou Fair-haired Angel of the Evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!”
—William Blake (17571827)
“It is the sinners dust-tongued bell claps me to churches
When, with his torch and hourglass, like a sulphur priest,
His beast heel cleft in a sandal....”
—Dylan Thomas (19141953)