Decorating our Homes: Candles in the Windows & Stringing Lights

A Tradition-ful Advent:

Decorating our Homes
Candles in the Windows & Stringing Lights

A Little History:

In the days before electricity lit up dark skies, people set candles in their windows, especially on long winter nights to welcome weary travelers. That flicker of light was a beacon of hope. For wanderers of those desolate and pitch-dark roads that tiny glow in the darkness meant sanctuary was just ahead.  So the tradition of placing candles in the windows at Christmas started from this beacon of hospitality.  On Christmas Eve, families placed a single candle in each of three windows, or three candles in one window, to represent Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.  It was a way to honor Mary and Joseph’s long trek to Bethlehem and search for a place to stay.  These lights were both symbolic of their faith, and a sign to those traveling that the people in this home celebrates Christmas and visitors are welcome to come in, share a meal, and celebrate Christmas with them.
Centuries later after Edison’s invention of the light bulb, people began stringing lights on their Christmas trees. (as we talked about a few days ago in The Lights on The Christmas Tree).  It wasn’t long before lights were being strung on store windows and outside homes as well, as a way of adding to the holiday decorations and cheer.  However, many people today still light the candles in the windows like families have been doing for centuries.

The Connection:

Putting candles in our windows and decorating our homes with Christmas lights is symbolic of what we, as Christians, are called to do year-round.  Jesus said we are the light of the world, a city on a hill.   Just like the lights on our homes, the message we proclaim has the ability to pierce the world’s darkness through the windows of our lives and provide hope.  Our homes are filled with the Holy Spirit and we are called to open them as a sanctuary for the weary to find rest as we share the gospel and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ.  When we decorate our homes for Christmas we are publicly declaring that we are celebrating Christmas, and welcoming others to celebrate with us!

Verse(s) to Remember:

“You are the light of the world – like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14,16

Ideas to Make it Stick:

  • Decorate your home with lights or candles in the windows
  • Go for a drive or walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights
  • Make homemade luminaries for your front porch (easy directions online)
  • Make a “welcome Jesus” or “Vacancy” sign for your door

Please feel free to share with friends and leave comments…  Do you have other connections between the tradition and the heart of the holiday?  Creative ideas to make it stick?  I’d love to know what you and your family do with this!


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