What It Means If You See A Home With A Candle Burning In The Window

Looking through a window to see a candle burning is a lovely sight at any time of year. In general, candles bring warmth and light, both literally and figuratively. More than just decoration, though, spotting a burning candle in the window of somebody's house could mean several things. A lit candle could have been put there to remember a loved one or to signal that they have not been forgotten.

Candles in the window could also symbolize traditions carried over from centuries ago in various parts of the world as well as represent religious holidays like Hanukkah. Moreover, a lit candle lets people know that something amazing, like a new opportunity or a birth, has arrived. Of course, candles in a windowsill are also sometimes put there for purely decorative purposes. Still, if you're interested in decorating your home by putting candles in the window, you'll want to know the potential significance of doing so. 

The sight of a lit candle in the window harks back to a long time ago

Generally speaking, the sight of a lit candle behind a window is often associated with holidays. Over the eight days of Hanukkah, some families put their menorah in the window to show off their pride in their faith and let others know they are celebrating the miracle of Hanukkah. If put up specifically near Christmas, a candle in the window could also be for decorative purposes. Holidays are a time for people to come together, and putting a light in a visible part of your home lets those who are visiting know that they are welcome. Aesthetically, burning a real candle will bring a more traditional vibe to your decorating (as opposed to LED candles, though these look great, too). 

However, to some candles in the window aren't just for holidays. During the time of the Penal Laws (mostly throughout the 16th and 17th centuries), Irish Catholics were persecuted. Those who still practiced their faith secretly would light a candle in their windows to let others know their intentions. The burning candle was used both as a symbol of hope for those being persecuted and as a subtle defiance against religious laws in Ireland at that time. Crucially, it was a symbol that the meaning could easily be denied if needed.

Candles in the window can represent both sorrow and joy

Similarly, the Pennsylvania Dutch keep a candle burning 365 days of the year. Supposedly, this is a tradition that stems from when the Underground Railroad was in operation, when those bravely risking their lives for freedom could find shelter along the way in homes that had a burning candle in the window. These days, a candle lit in a window still signifies to travelers that they can find food or shelter within a home.

Finally, as mentioned, a candle in the window often means that the person who lives there is hoping for someone to return, for example from war. The window candle was thought to represent the fact that there was always a warm, bright, and welcoming home for the person who was away. Additionally, if a loved one has passed, a lit candle is a peaceful way to remember them. On a more cheerful note, noticing a burning candle in a window can mean a baby has been born or that something wonderful has happened. A candle burning will add both warmth and light to your home like good news will.