Candles in windows have a long history. Different cultures use the candles to mean different things. The candles can be religious in nature or secular.
During Hanukkah, Jewish families will often place a menorah in a window to represent the miracle of the eight nights that the oil burnt in the temple.
The candle in the window links back to the days when the fire was a major centre of daily activity and provided the family with warmth and security. It was also used to signify the warmth that awaited a family member who was travelling. Or it could represent a celebration or the respect a family had for worthy public figures.
Christmas Eve Meaning
Families will place a large pillar candle in the window and light it on Christmas Eve, allowing it to burn through the night. It represents the star that led Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and that Jesus is the "light of the world."
Symbol of Friendship
The candle in the window of many homes represents the welcoming of travellers into the home and is a symbol of friendship to those on the outside.
During a time of persecution, Irish families would place a candle in their windows to indicate that they were Catholics and it was a safe place for a priest to visit. Sometimes they would group three candles together in the window to represent Mary, Joseph and Jesus.