This year on Christmas Eve, each of us who wish to show that Christ is welcome in our homes, should join together in placing a single candle in the front window of their home. This tradition began centuries ago and it is worth remembering and sharing this wonderful custom.
The candle shining in the window is an ancient Irish custom, symbolizing a welcome to the Christ Child into the family’s home. It is also a symbol of hospitality, welcoming Mary and Joseph in their journey, and also welcoming all traveling in need of food and rest.
Some say this practice traces to the 17th century when the Penal laws in Ireland did not allow any Catholic Churches or priests. It is said that the candle also welcomed the priest to their home, inviting him to bless and say mass with the family on Christmas Eve.
Most recently, some Irish light the candle to remind us of the diaspora –the scattering of Irish to faraway places during potato famine and by oppression by the English. The candle is to welcome all home at the holidays.
Over time, Americans followed the tradition of a candle in the window, as at Christmas one can see hospitality lights on any given street.
That greatest gift to mankind, Christ is remembered and celebrated by the lighting of a single candle in the dark of night at Christmastime. Remember to light a candle in the window in remembrance of the meaning of Christmas.