The holiday season is upon us, and Michael Bublé has emerged from the mist to serenade us to some classic holiday tunes (bless that songbird of a man). With a dusting of snow covering the ground and the smell of gingerbread in the air, there’s one thing that brings the idyllic picture together perfectly— the twinkling of candlelight lighting up the windows of houses.
Obviously, in the days before electricity, candles were necessary for... well... being able to see anything. Once the lightbulb became a regular occurrence in most households, however, the custom of using candlelight to keep from stubbing your toe on the nightstand (our little piggies hurt just imagining that) became less necessary. But now that strings of LED lights are available at most stores, the sight of candles in windows (yes, even the plastic battery-operated ones)might have you wondering where the tradition started. Gather around, darlings, and we’ll tell you some tales...
Cloak & Dagger Worship
This shouldn’t be surprising to any of you, but religion has been a point of contention throughout pretty much all of history. From the mid-17th through the late-18th century, Irish Catholics (persecuted by British Protestants) were outlawed from practicing their faith under penalty of jail time (or worse). Unable to worship freely, they decided to start a system that would sneakily communicate with other Catholics, right under British noses. That system? (you guessed it) Candles!
In a daring act of rebellion, these undercover Catholics started placing lit candles in their windows at night, signaling to others in the area that it was a safe house (of sorts). After that, they would then leave their doors unlocked (unsafe, much?) as an invitation to their Catholic neighbors to visit their home and hold a secret mass under the inky cover of darkness.
The holidays are marketed as a time for all things merry and bright, but that’s not the case for everyone. Christmas, specifically, can be exceedingly tough for a lot of people, especially when dealing with the loss of loved ones.
Lighting candles for people who have passed holds a cultural significance that expands well outside of just Christmastime, but doing so at this time of the year can be a way to remember loved ones at a time we’re missing them the most. The idea is that, as you light this candle, you say a prayer or send out a good thought for the person or people you are missing. While the candle burns, you’re meant to use that time to reflect on the sweetest memories you shared with them as a tribute to them and their life. (we’re not crying, you’re crying)
So, the next time you see a candle lit in someone’s window, send them good thoughts... you never know what they might be struggling with.
As A Welcome
The holidays (especially in the Midwest) can be bitterly cold, which is why the appeal of a home lit with a warm glow from within is about one of the most tantalizing views around. In colonial times, many people would place candles in their windows to signal that their homes were open and welcome havens for travelers. (maybe we watch too many true crime documentaries, but this seems a bit risky) At the time, this was a perfectly acceptable (not to mention charitable) thing to do, especially during the frigid winter months.
Now, this didn’t just send a signal to travelers from out of town, but to neighbors as well. If you saw candles all aglow within your neighbor’s home, it was most likely a good time to call on them, offer merry tidings, etc. Because, as we all well know, leaving a candle burning in an empty house is a no-no. (don’t even think about it)
So, there you have it— candles in the window during the holiday season are about as festive as roasting chestnuts over an open fire (although, have you tried those? Blegh.) or busting out some yuletide carols. If you’re still searching for gift ideas for loved ones (no judgment), be sure to check out all our exclusive Kalamazoo Candle Holiday Fragrances that are sure to keep them jolly all winter long. Of course, while you’re looking, maybe pick out a little something special for yourself as well? ‘Tis the season of gifting, after all. May as well treat yourself, too!