Ever thought about the reason why you place candles in windows at Christmas? It’s a simple tradition that holds so much meaning and history. One of these reasons could be why your family has continued to observe the practice to this day. Christmas traditions around the world share the ritual. Know your family’s history more, and the stories of entire countries, races, and people behind the soft glow of that dancing flame upon wax.
Have a Very Irish Christmas
There are many ways that the Irish do Christmas differently, but candles in windows are one of their most significant Christmas traditions. In the 17th century, Catholicism was persecuted in Ireland by the British government. Irish priests were given until May 1, 1698, to leave the country, and several rights were stripped from Irish Catholics.
Devout followers continued to practice their faith in secret, developing several ways to exercise it in secret. One of those ideas was to place candles in windows for Christmas to invite Catholic priests into their home. The residents will receive the holy sacraments, and the priests will get food and a safe place to stay.
Traveler’s Inns and B&Bs
It’s not clear whether this was derived from the Irish Catholic practice, vice versa, or if it’s an entirely independent Christmas tradition that coincidentally shares a strong similarity. Bed and breakfasts, hotels, inns, and any homes willing to take in travelers for the night are known to put up candles in windows.
Initially, it began with homes and B&Bs, then was eventually adopted by bigger establishments, namely inns and hotels. The next time you go traveling, you might want to keep an eye out for a candle resting on a windowsill. It could be a sign of welcome for rest to those who wander but always be cautious. Do your research ahead, and trust your gut when internal alarm bells start ringing.
Significant Family and Religious Events
Candles in windows aren’t just for Christmas. They can represent either the mourning or the joy of a family, but both represent hope. In the sad event of a missing family member, the candle represents looking forward to their return. In times of happiness, the candle announces the birth of a new family member, welcoming them, possibly adapted from the birth of Jesus Christ.
Religiously, candles in windows during the holiday season signify the Magi following the star to the baby Jesus. The Jewish also place their menorah, a 7-piece candelabrum, on windowsills to remember the miracle of the one day’s worth of oil burning for eight, nonstop. Both practices celebrate displays of great faith that were key moments in their religion and beliefs.
Meaningful Traditions of the Season
They’re not just great stories but real events that shaped history, represented by a beguilingly modest act of placing a candle in windows at Christmas. This holiday season, spend time to contemplate how its past shaped your present. Have you lit your candle yet?