The History Of Holiday Candles In The Windows

The holiday season is approaching. All of us here at Window Nation enjoy seeing the festive holiday lights and decorations families have put up in their homes. It’s no surprise that our favorite decoration to see are festive candles in the windows, a simple yet elegant way to celebrate the holidays. Most homeowners might not think twice when putting candles in their windows; however, the small gesture has a rich history that spans centuries and cultures. Naturally, as window replacement experts, we wanted to dig into the history of the tradition to find out where it got its roots.

How Did the Tradition Start?

The tradition of having candles lit in your window during the holidays is different for each culture. The origins differ based on religious beliefs and even regions. No matter where your family comes from or how they celebrate the holidays, the use of lights has become a tradition used by many to brighten up their home and make it feel festive for the holidays. Here in the United States, the tradition of lighting candles in the windows of homes during the Christmas holidays was brought by the Irish.

From the mid-17th through the late 18th century, the British government created oppressive laws in an attempt to restrict the practice of Catholicism in Ireland. During this time of religious suppression, there were no churches allowed. Catholic Priests were forced to hide out in the wilderness in caves.  

The priests would sneak back into town during the night to have mass with fellow believers in their homes. During Christmastime, Catholic families would leave their doors unlocked and a candle burning in the window to let the priest know he was welcome in their home.  

With the many waves of Irish immigration to America, the tradition took root here and continued to evolve. For example, in colonial times, a lit candle in a window let travelers know they had a safe place to stay. The candle also served as a signal amongst neighbors that the home was open to receive visitors and to light the way for returning family members.  

With the many waves of Irish immigration to America, the tradition took root here and continued to evolve. For example, in colonial times, a lit candle in a window let travelers know they had a safe place to stay. The candle also served as a signal amongst neighbors that the home was open to receive visitors and to light the way for returning family members.   

How Do We Honor the Tradition Today?

In modern times, the custom of the candle in the window may have lost its traditional meaning, but the practice lives on. The reasons might be different, but the candle in the window is still a simple and beautiful way to light up your home and make it festive for the holiday season. You can use your candles to direct family and friends to your home to share in new holiday traditions and memories. No matter how you celebrate, be sure to enjoy this time of year and spread the holiday cheer and love through your windows and out into the world. 

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