Candle In The Window – What Does It Mean?

Updated on September 27, 2022

Table of Contents

What Does Putting The Candle In The Window Mean?

Lighting candles in windows has been a tradition since before the American Revolution. It was used to guide people through foggy weather conditions.

What Does It Mean to Put a Candle in the Window?

When a relative was away, many colonial households had the habit of lighting a candle in a window. During this lengthy journey, they might not have had any specific return schedule. The primary forms of communication were written messages and messengers. It was not always reliable to go around to find out where someone was. Because of these two factors, it wasn’t easy to know if someone was returning home or not.

Ever wondered what a pink, or blue colors meant in candles - find out here!

Guiding Beacon Home With a Candle in the Window

A lighted wax taper (candlestick) was often used to send messages from one house to another. It was believed that the candle burns longer than usual if someone were ill or had died.

Welcome to Travelers With a Candle in the Window

Many colonial homes were scattered across vast tracts of land, far from their neighbors. The window had a lightbulb inside as a welcoming signal for travelers. This was especially true of inns and resting stops along major roads and for stagecoaches.

People who travel by train will surely be greeted with a meal and a bed if they see the light burning in a house. As soon as a candle was burning on the windowsill, passersby could tell that someone might be stopping by for a meal, a conversation, or a visit.

Various Traditions of Putting a Candle in the Window

Candles were often used to remember lost relatives or friends who had passed away or wouldn’t be returning. Sometimes they were placed in window sills in memory of someone who was no longer alive but whose absence could not be forgotten.

1. Candle in the Window for the Dead

A candle on the windowsill is a feature of a house where people welcome their dead relatives back from the afterlife. There are two different types of houses. One is a pagan house, while the other is an Orthodox Christian house.

2. Celebration of Samhain

Samhain, otherwise called Hallowe’en, was an ancient Celtic celebration marking the beginning of winter. In Ireland, it was traditionally held on November 1st. On this day, fires were lit to ward off evil spirits. People dressed in costumes and went door to door asking for food and drink. They believed that if they did not receive these things, bad luck would follow them throughout the year.

On Halloween, people would leave out a plate of food for the ghostly visitors. They’d put a lighted wick in the middle of the plate so they could welcome them into the house. At the end of the meal, there would be one place left at the table where no one sat. It was called the “ghost chair.”

3 Pagan Holidays Became Church Holidays

The Church adopted Hallowe’en to imitate pagan celebrations. It serves to increase public acceptance of Christendom. This holiday is also called Halloween in modern times.

4. Candle in the Window Ireland Traditions

Traditionally, on November 1st, or All Souls’ Day, people light a candle in memory of those who died before them. In Ireland, an unlit red wax candle placed on the window sill is a traditional Christmas custom. Red signifies the warmth of the home where the Holy Family waited for their rescue. A taper symbolizes a fire burning brightly in the hearth, warming the family and welcoming the spirit of the departed back into the house.

Even though electric candle lights are used today, the custom of lighting them in homes during the holiday season still exists. The traditional decorations for homes during the holy season include window candlelights.

Moreover, you should also read our article about indoor citronella candles and whether they are safe to use on the window or not.

Why Do Amish Put Candles in Windows?

Even though the Amish don’t celebrate Christmas, they still light candles in their windows during the holiday season. This tradition is similar to the Irish practice of lighting candles in their homes.

1. Candle in the Window for Soldiers

Each time a soldier went off to fight in the American Revolution, his family would place a candle in their window until they returned. When the soldier did not come home, the candle remained lit. Many people kept lighting candles in their windows to remember the soldiers killed in the war.

2. Candle in the Window Civil War

During the American Civil War, candles were placed in windows to remember those who died fighting for their country.

Moreover, you should also read our article about the courting candles, what are they and what are their purpose.


In conclusion, we can see that the use of candles in windows has been around since ancient times. Today, it’s common for people to decorate their homes with candles during the holidays.

Moreover, it would help if you also read our article, briefly discussing the history of candles, who invented them and many more.

Smell is one of the human senses which can flow through the whole body. I am the Founder of where we talk all about scented candles. Known as Candace the Candle Girl, I know pretty much all there is to know about scented candles. I make and sell them on Etsy and Ebay - so be sure to ask if you have any burning questions :) (pun intended ;) )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *