What is a bushel?

This explanation page has been added after noticing how many search queries worded “what is a bushel” or very similar landed on the “Are you hiding your light ...” page. Hope this helps!

A bushel is an archaic unit of volume measure, equivalent to 8 imperial gallons (about 36.4 litres or 9.6 US gallons). It was not normally used for liquids, but for measuring produce such as grain or fruit. The measuring tool was the bushel basket, woven to a standard size. The name of this tool was often abbreviated from “bushel basket” to simply “bushel”, so the word bushel came to be used interchangeably as either the amount of produce (a bushel of corn) or the measuring basket (a bushel).

Such a large basket, probably stored upside-down on its rim because the bottom was most likely woven in a curve, could easily completely cover a candle on its holder and prevent most of its light escaping.

The saying “Don’t hide your light under a bushel” came about not because such an action was likely but because of the very absurdity of it. Who would be foolish enough to light a candle and then cover it up so the light would not be useful?

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