Many people around the world will be lighting candles today – whether they are candle-o-holics (as many of us are), or occasional candle consumers. Lighting candles during the Christmas season is an old holiday tradition, and one that has varying meanings in different parts of the world.
- Australia: Australians gather together every Christmas Eve in Melbourne to sing their favorite Christmas carols. This tradition is called Carols by Candlelight and tens of thousands of people hold lit candles.
- Ireland: One tradition that is still often practiced today is the placement of a candle in the window on Christmas Eve. It is most often red in color and decorated with holly sprig. This is viewed as a way to symbolize a welcome to Mary and Joseph as they were seeking shelter. In actuality, the lit candles served as a mark for a safe haven for priests to come and perform mass (which was considered illegal at the time by English authorities).
- Italy: The center focus of the home is often the Presepio, or Nativity Scene. Candles are often lit around the Presepio, children recite poems and prayers are said.
- Slavic Nations (Poles, Ukrainians, Russians): A large Christmas candle is placed on the dining table after it has been blessed by a priest. Instead of using a candlestick, the Ukrainians stick their candle in a loaf of bread.
- Sweden: The Saint Lucia Ceremony begins on December 13th with the youngest daughter from each family donning a white robe with a red sash. On her head she wears a crown of evergreens with tall lit candles attached to it. She will wake her parents and serve them coffee and Lucia buns. On the morning of Christmas, the churches are completely lit up with several lit candles.
- South America: A candle is placed into a paper lantern that is decorated with many symbols of Christmas and pictures of the Nativity.
What is your holiday tradition?
Happy candle burning ~