A Seasonal Reflection by Patrick O’Sullivan

The candle in the window was surely one of the most iconic images of Christmas of old. The candles in question were the real thing, of course. They came in packets of three, their waxy scent mingling with that of fruits and jams in the old country shops. They were more than just long tall pillars of wax, though: they were channels of brightness and light waiting their time to shine. Someone once described them as pools of light in the darkness of a northern winter, a sentiment which shows how much their light was looked forward to and appreciated then.

There was nothing vain or brash or gaudy about them, their plain whites or deep reds the colours of the season: evoking as they did the pristine whiteness of snow or the rich reds of berry laden hollies.

No, the candles had a simplicity, a modesty, an integrity that was very much in keeping with the spirit of Christmas itself.

More than that, they embodied a tradition that went back generations, so that in a very real sense they were part of that long continuum of joy and delight and hope which Christmas had inspired for so long.

The flickering lights of the candles may have been shy and understated, and yet they were like a link, a bond with all of the hundreds and thousands of candles that had gone before at Christmastime.

They were a link, a bond too with all of those who had lit the candles and set them in their windows, maybe with a wish or silent prayer in honour of the season that was in it.

It was in this way that the candles became repositories of hope, caches of wishes and longing and more, the candlelight giving those wishes expression in ways that words never could.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own Christmas Annual