Monday, December 25, 2006

The Candle in the Window

It is a symbolic gesture to those ancient travelers who could find no shelter that there is room in this home for them and the coming child.

The candle in the Window, still a favorite traditional Irish Christmas decoration, harkens back to that ancient Christmas Eve, when Mary and Joseph could find no shelter. It is a symbol of Irish hospitality, their way of welcoming Mary and Joseph...and any travelers who might happen to pass by looking for a warm place to stay.

In the days when it was illegal (and dangerous) to practice the Catholic faith in Ireland because of the oppressive Penal Laws, the candle in the window of Irish homes at Christmas also signaled traveling priests that this was a home where they would be welcome and where they could safely conduct the traditional Irish Catholic Christmas Mass.

After dinner Christmas Eve, the table is set again with bread and milk. Then, the youngest member of the household is given the honor of striking the ceremonial match and lighting a very large candle to be placed in the front window.

Later, when it is time to extinguish the flame, only a girl named Mary is supposed to have that honor. Some carry out an alternative to this custom and have someone named Mary light the candle, and then have the youngest blow it out. Perhaps this modern twist is better for those safety-conscious parents out there who really don't want their youngest child lighting a match at all, no matter what the tradition says!
Merry Christmas from TMC NEWS


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