Candle of Christmas: Tradition lights the way home in the holiday season

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There is a long-standing Irish tradition that, just before Christmas, you start cleaning out everything. Give everything a good scrubbing. Clear the clutter. Sweep out the carriage house and the front walks. Clean the barn. Paint or whitewash the outbuildings. Mop the floors. Change the curtains. Wash all the linens. Make sure the windows are spotless.

Some say it is to make ready for the Christ child, the new-born king. Some pass it off as preparing for Father Christmas.

The Sioux tribe has a custom, though not necessarily exclusive to this time of year, of calling over all their friends and perhaps a few enemies, and giving away most of their belongings. Just start handing stuff out, the more valued the possessions, the better the person holding the giveaway is reported to feel.

Ben Franklin asked the question “How many observe Christ's birthday? How few his precepts? O 'tis easier to keep Holidays than commandments.”

Among my favorite Irish customs is the candle in the window.

A lighted candle is placed in the window of a house on Christmas Eve to welcome Mary and Joseph as they travel looking for shelter and to indicate a safe place for priests to perform mass as, during Penal Times, this was a major concern. Another element of that custom was that the youngest in the house was to light it and only a girl named `Mary' could extinguish the flame.

Also the placing of Holly on doors is directly connected to Irish history as it flourished during the Holiday season and gives the poor ample means with which to decorate their dwellings. According to Ireland Information.com, “All decorations are traditionally taken down on Little Christmas (January 6) and it is considered to be bad luck to take them down beforehand.

May peace and plenty be the first to lift the latch on your door, and happiness be guided to your home by the candle of Christmas.

Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi shonas duit.'

A prosperous and happy Christmas to you.

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