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The time-honoured tradition of a Christmas candle in the window

Candles have the remarkable ability to create a variety of unique ambiences, influenced by their scent, colour, and placement. One of the most common atmospheres associated with candles is relaxation. The soft, flickering light and gentle fragrance emitted by candles, especially scented ones, can help us unwind and reduce stress. Hence why so many of us light them when having a bath or massage.

Candles are widely known for their romance evoking abilities. The warm, intimate glow they emit can create a cosy and romantic atmosphere for special occasions and they’re a great way of brightening up those cold, dark, winter nights, and for bringing festive cheer. The soft, inviting light they provide makes a space feel warm and welcoming, and it is one of the main reasons they play a significant role in festive occasions and celebrations. Whether it’s Christmas, Diwali, a birthday or any other special event, candles are often used to create a jovial ambience.

In addition to their decorative and functional purposes, candles can create reflective and thoughtful atmospheres. For this reason, many individuals use candles in religious and spiritual practices, finding solace in the soft, meditative light they provide. Observing the flickering flame mindfully and being aware of the candle’s scent can enhance mindfulness and create a sense of presence, making candles a valuable tool for meditation and self-reflection.

The origins of the Christmas candle

Lighting candles at Christmas and putting them on display is a time-honoured tradition spanning centuries.

One of the most widely recognised origins of this tradition comes from Ireland. During the 17th and 18th centuries, when Catholicism was suppressed in Ireland, candles were placed in windows to signal to priests that the house was a safe place for them to perform Mass secretly. It also served as a symbol of welcome for any travellers who might be passing by, indicating that they could stop and rest.

In Christian tradition, the candle in the window is often seen as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem, which guided the Three Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus. It signifies the light of Christ illuminating the darkness and represents a welcoming gesture to travellers and strangers. According to Christian lore, Joseph and Mary found no room at the inn while seeking shelter in Bethlehem. The candle in the window represents a beacon of hope, signifying that there is room and weary travellers are welcome.

Remembering those not with us

A lit candle was (and still is) often placed in the window to mark when a family member is absent to signify they are still being thought about and loved, even when they are travelling far from home. It was also seen as a wish for the absent person’s safe return. Candles are also lit to remember a family member or friend who has passed away, letting them know they are still kept in mind and are missed dearly. It is a tradition to help families and friends remember absent loved ones during the Christmas season.

Welcoming visitors and those travelling from afar

Historically, candles were often lit in windows to welcome travellers. This practice was common in many cultures and time periods, especially in the days before widespread electric lighting. The lit candle served as a signal to travellers that they were welcome to stop at that house for rest, food, and shelter. It was a way to provide guidance in the dark, especially in rural areas or places with limited street lighting, and to help travellers find their way.

While the tradition might not be as widely practiced today due to advancements in lighting and changes in societal norms, it has historical roots in offering hospitality and guidance to those on a journey.

Celebrating a birth

A lit candle in the window was sometimes used as a sign to announce the birth of a baby. In some cultures and communities, lighting a candle in the window served to share news of significant events, including the birth of a child. The candlelight would symbolise joy and celebration, and it was a way for neighbours and passersby to know about the happy occasion.

Why is creating festive traditions special?

We all have them, don’t we? Whether it be a Christmas eve box, new festive pyjamas, an obligatory mulled wine while we’re decorating the tree, or going to a pantomime.

Creating our own festive traditions allows families and couples to establish a sense of identity, connection, and continuity. Participating in shared activities and traditions fosters a sense of togetherness and strengthens family or couple bonds. Not to mention the lasting memories that are created.

Establishing unique traditions provides an opportunity to infuse personal meaning and significance into the festive season. Families and couples can tailor traditions to reflect their values, beliefs, and interests, making the celebrations more meaningful and authentic. Traditions often involve rituals that convey cultural, religious, or moral values, but they can be light-hearted, funny, and thought-provoking too. By creating our own traditions, we can pass down these values to the next generation, reinforcing important lessons and principles.

Be fire safe when burning candles

When it comes to burning candles, safety is important. You know, candles can be so lovely and cosy, but they can also be a fire hazard if we’re not careful. Follow these handy guidelines when lighting candles at home:

  • It’s essential to never leave them unattended, especially around the house or when going to bed.
  • Make sure they’re away from anything that can catch fire and out of reach of kids and pets is crucial.
  • Trimming the wicks and placing them on a flat surface can help prevent accidents.
  • You might also want to consider using those flameless LED candles. These are a great alternative, especially if you have little ones or curious pets around.

It’s all about enjoying the ambiance while staying safe and sound!

Establishing traditions often involves spending quality time together, whether it’s baking cookies, crafting decorations, or engaging in outdoor activities. These shared moments create opportunities for communication, laughter, and genuine connection. Having special traditions to look forward to can enhance the anticipation and excitement leading up to the festive season. It creates a sense of excitement and joy, making the holiday season even more special. If you haven’t got any traditions yet, make this year your starting point!

P.S. If you feel your windows need a new dressing and have decided to treat yourself to window shutters this Christmas…you know where we are. We’ll be happy to chat things through with a mince pie in hand! 020 3993 1220.

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