The candle in the window

In every household when Christmas eve is upon us the tradition of putting the candle in the window is something, we all remember. Pulling back the net curtains to light a ‘real candle’ with a flame that would put the heart crossways in the fire chief. So, what does this Celtic folklore tradition mean?
The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas Eve is still practiced today. Primarily it was, and still is, a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they travelled looking for shelter. The candle should be lit by the youngest member of the household and only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name ‘Mary’. To have no light meant that you shared the guilt of the Innkeeper at Bethlehem who said, “No Room”!
After evening meal, the kitchen table was again set and on it was placed a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, a pitcher of milk and a large lit candle. The door to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and Joseph, or any wandering traveller, could come in. It’s also said that leaving a loaf of bread on the table will ensure bread for the coming year. And, you should also leave a bowl of water out to be blessed by the travellers – this water would be used for cures.
Now I have to ask the question. Would you leave your front door open today and let who every is passing call in for a cuppa ?
It was believed that the rooster would crow at unusual times, and to hear him crow at midnight was a good omen, as was a new moon. A clear star-filled sky would bring good crops in the summer, and shoes placed side by side would prevent a quarrel. For good health throughout the following year, you should eat an apple at the stroke of midnight.
There were also sinister superstitions associated with the eve of Christ’s birth. If, when all were seated round the fire, one shadow on the wall behind them was headless, then the person who cast the shadow would be dead before the end of the year! God bless the central heating and ban on the open fire! It was commonly held in Ireland that the gates of Heaven open at midnight and those who die would go straight in. It was also believed that no prayer would go unanswered on this most holy of nights.
Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green. A blowing wind on Christmas Day brings good luck – but, wearing new shoes will bring bad luck. And never turn a mattress – very bad luck for the turner! The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune and good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season. To bring luck and blessings, you should take a wisp of straw from the nativity scene at the church and bring it home. Believe that works!
So, Christmas is upon us and as with all Irish history and folklore there are Superstitions for the Christmas Season galore. If it makes us feel good, they are true but if they don’t suit your mindset or plans? So, what! life is what we make it. Enjoy a happy, peaceful Christmas.

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