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Christmas Candles Through Your Windows
Let the glow of Christmas spill out into the world beyond


Slimline

By Slimline on 17 December 2017
Posted in Windows


Traditionally we deck our windows with fairy lights, holly and candles, letting the glow of Christmas spill out into the world beyond. Of course, it helps show the way to Father Christmas, guiding him to each house on Christmas eve, but history tells the story in a different light….


Christmas Candles Through your Windows

Argh Christmas – synonymous with lights, festivities and good cheer. Windows have always played a special part in Christmas celebrations; traditionally we deck our windows with fairy lights, holly and candles, letting the glow of Christmas spill out into the world beyond. Of course, it helps show the way to Father Christmas, guiding him to each house on Christmas eve, but history tells the story in a different light….

Culture Candles

Candles in windows at Christmas time have a different meaning for various cultures, depending on religious beliefs and origins. Now candles are electric, and are used to make the room feel festive. However, the tradition stems back to Ireland, when times were not so kind.

Welcoming Jesus

The act began as a Catholic tradition, predominantly in the south of the country. The youngest in the family was in charge of lighting the candle, and someone by the name of Mary was in charge of putting them out. The lone candle was supposed to represent a welcome to the holy family, guiding Jesus into the home.

Yet dig a little deeper and you will uncover a sting in this heart-warming tale..

Two Tales

During the time of the Penal Laws, Catholics were banned from practicing their faith. Mass had to be performed in secret, and if a priest was caught, he was severely punished. Households that supported the priests needed a code to tell them they were welcome at their home; and hence the candle in the window become the secret message. If a priest saw a lit lone candle, he knew he could practice mass in the home.

However, the official cover story if officials came a’knockin’ was that the candle was a symbol to Mary, Joseph and Jesus, announcing that there was room at the house for them. The story unfolded that this was in deference to the Christmas story, when Mary and Joseph were told there was no room for them at the inn.

The Catholics justified their story, believing the priests they were welcoming into their homes symbolised Jesus. They brought Christ’s light into their homes, so the tale was an extension of the truth, if not an entirely the whole truth!

Brought across the seas

Now this early meaning has been lost, but the tradition continues. The many Irish who travelled to America in the early nineteenth century brought the tradition across the seas with them, and is still a firm part of the festivities, even if most don’t fully understand the initial sentiment behind it.

Not Just for Catholics

Of course, the Catholics are not the only religion to use a Christmas candle to symbolise their faith. Jews annually celebrate the anniversary of the rededication of the Temple as a ‘feast of lights’ using a lighted candle.

Slavic nations use a candle blessed by a priest, in South America a paper lantern with nativity pictures adorning it houses a lighted candle, and in UK and France three candles are used to symbolise the holy trinity.

Many other cultures use candles as part of their celebrations, including burning them in the windows as a guiding light.

Consider your Candle

Whatever the history behind the candle in the window, there’s no doubt its one of the most iconic symbols of Christmas.

However you choose to light up your windows this Christmas, spare a thought for the reason behind your simple candle or fairy lights – you will view them in a completely different light!

 


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