Ethnic traditions

One Little Candle in the Window

The Candle in the Window otherwise in Gaelic Coinneal Mór na Nollag. On Christmas Eve a big candle was left to burn in the window, often lit by the youngest member of the family. The idea was to light the way of the Holy Family who was travelling the road. It was also lit as a welcome to visitors.

Sometimes there would be three candles lit because of the fact that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were looking for a place to stay, this was to show they were welcome in an Irish home, even if they could not find a place to stay in Bethlehem!

Lighting the candle was a particularly important tradition in her childhood home recalls best-selling author Alice Taylor, who still puts a candle in every window of her house in Innishannon each year on Christmas Eve.

‘The candle was lit before the supper on Christmas Eve when dusk was gathering. In some houses it was a privilege extended to the youngest child, but in some places it was the eldest or the father of the family who lit the candle.

The candle is very symbolic of the light which is at the heart of Christmas; the idea was to light the way for the Holy Family as they travelled the roads in search of shelter. We would all gather round and my mother would sprinkle the holy water on us. That’s a tradition I brought to my own family, we sing ‘Silent Night’ as we light the candle.’ Source

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