Traditionally Chic: The Story & History Behind Window Candles

Shedding Some Light on the History of Window Candles


With centuries of illuminating history, it’s no wonder window candles receive such glowing reviews. These luminaries were important in both cultural and hospitality realms before reaching the level of decorating popularity they enjoy today. From religious signal in the 1100s to traveler's beacon in Colonial America, window candles have held significance throughout our world’s history.


The first appearance of window candles arose in England in the 12th century. During Christmas, Irish Catholic families would display candles in their windows in honor of Christmas Mass. It was dangerously illegal to practice Catholicism in Great Britain at the time. With no Catholic churches at hand, priests would visit homes illuminated by window candles, knowing they could safely conduct traditional Irish Catholic Christmas Mass inside.

With no Catholic churches around, priests would visit homes illuminated by window candles, knowing they could safely conduct traditional Irish Catholic Christmas Mass inside.

Two window candle trends seen today correlate to that time of religious censure. The first is the placement of individual candles in several windows. The second trend is the arrangement of three candles in a single window, signifying Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Two trends seen today with window candles are reflected from that time of religious persecution. The first was to place individual candles in several windows. The second trend was to arrange three candles in a single window, signifying Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Window candles later became a guide beyond religious identification. In the United States, the placement of a candle on one’s windowsill was planted in Colonial American roots for family and wandering travelers.

In the early 1800s, houses were often miles apart. Candles were placed in windows as a landmark, providing a sign of welcome to travelers. They were also used as a signal for family members traveling at night, letting them know they had finally arrived home.

Candles were placed in windows as a landmark, providing a sign of welcome to travelers.

Today, window candles continue to express welcome and holiday festivity, while expanding to define personal style in home and event decor. Whether you choose window candles for their historical importance or Christmas candles for their decorative potential during the holidays, understanding a little of the history casts a new light on this tradition. Bring glowing reviews from all who enter your home: add holiday window candles to your sill! 

***Flamed candles were the tradition of the past but because of safety precautions, flameless and battery operated window candles have become the new norm.