What is votive candle? The word "Votive" comes from the Latin "Votivus", from "Votum" meaning "Vow". A vow is a promise usually made for spiritual or religious purposes. A votive candle is a small, typically white, candle, burnt as a votive offering in a religious ceremony. Often votive candles are lit and devoted to the memory of a loved one who has passed away or as an offering to favor the answering of a prayer.