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The Candle In The Window

Family Tradition

The Tradition of placing a Candle in the Window goes back to the Colonial times in the United States and back much further in time for other cultures.  It is a Tradition practiced throughout the year. It symbolizes the warmth and security of the Family hearth and signals loyalty to Family members and loved ones  who are not present in the home. At Christmas Time it follows the tradition of The Colonial Williamsburg Christmas.


A Window Candle has been a traditional practice in many cultures. It has a variety of meanings in The United States. The practice starts with the fundamental use of fire by mankind. Throughout the history of man a campfire has represented warmth and security. It is the source of heat to cook food and warm the body and the spirit. It is the barrier between the safe and the unsafe in an untamed and unfriendly Hearth Trimmed_WEB.jpg (26492 bytes) wilderness.  Over the course of history, as we have moved our campfires into our  homes, there, the hearth has represented these very same things. The family hearth has been the center of activity because of its warmth and practical use for food preparation.  We love to watch the dancing flames as the fire's warmth flows into the deepest and coldest parts of our bodies. Sitting in front of the hearth on a cold wintry day gives us a feeling of warmth and security. It makes us feel like all is right with the world. In most cultures a Candle in the Window was used to signal a Family's loyalty to a loved one who was away traveling. It let that person know the family awaited their return and the hearth was warm and waiting for them1. In Ireland during times of religious persecution, the Window Candle signaled the location of religious services2.

In Colonial America a Candle in the Window was used to honor dignitaries, announce births and just plain celebrate (Hodges and Miley Theobold p. 42)3,4.House Candle Light Trimmed_WEB.jpg (22743 bytes) Every Christmas in Williamsburg Window Candles are illuminated in each window of the homes and businesses in that community to commemorate an old fashioned Christmas (Hodges and Miley Theobold p. 38)3. Many other cultures around the world practice the Candle in the Window Tradition.


1 Shiltz, P. "Candle In The Window." The Wolery Web Site Lyrics. http://www.rust.net/~pshiltz/Candle.htm.
2 Irish Web Site Christmas Traditions.
3 Jones, Hugh. The Present State of Virginia (originally published in London, 1724). Edited by Richard L. Martin. Chapel Hill, NC; University of North Carolina Press, 1956. p. 70.
4 Libbey Hodges, Oliver and Mary Miley Theobold. Williamsburg Christmas. New York. Harry N. Abrams Inc. 1999.




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Last updated January 11, 2009
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