International Winter Holiday Celebrations - Ireland
Posted on Nov 30th, 2020
There are two main theories as to the history of this tradition, but both center on the idea of céad míle fáilte, or "a thousand welcomes," which some will say is Ireland's motto. The first tradition is said to be a welcome sign to the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus, and a family without the candle in the window was seen as unwelcoming, as a representation of the innkeeper who refused them a room.
The second historical explanation dates back to the Penal Laws when practicing Catholicism was outlawed and priests went into hiding to defy the British government’s order that they cease performing the mass and other sacraments. One or three lit candles were a sign that the family was Catholic and an invitation to any passing priest to come and say mass with the family. Despite the harsh laws, Irish Catholics yearned to have a priest come and say mass in their home, especially at Christmas.
So, as a sign of welcome, we encourage you to place a red candle or a candle display in your windows for the holiday season. If you'd like to make a candle of your own, here's a simple how-to that you can do at home!