Category Archives: holiday

Happy New Year from This American House

Christmas Card 2016

For the past decade or so we’ve been making our own Christmas cards. It’s our little way of creating something personal for the people on our Christmas card list. It’s also a way for us to release some pinned up creative energy. This year we jumped on the adult coloring book trend with our Christmas card. We even sent four-packs of crayons with our cards, as you can see in the snap below the jump from Matthew at Boy Culture.

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Happy Holidays from This American House

This American House 2014 Christmas Card

For our Christmas card this year, The Mister and I were inspired by old paper dolls that we often see in vintage shops. Feel free to print it, cut us out and take us along for your own holiday fun!

Christmas Traditions: Candles in the Windows

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Christmas is really perfectly timed in the Western Hemisphere. The days are really short (the sun set at 4:30 PM yesterday) and the nights are especially dark. So it’s quite convenient that we deck the halls with festive lights during the month of December.

I’ve always loved the tradition of placing a single candle in each window of a house – especially in older homes with lots of big windows. Ah, classic Christmas.

It’s said that this tradition of placing a single candle in an home’s window dates back to Colonial times. According to an article from the Westlake Bay Village Observer,

The candle was often placed in the window when a member of the family was away. The lit candle was also placed in the window as a sign of good news or as a beacon to weary travelers. Candles also represented friendship and were seen as a sign of welcome to others.

In early America, homes were often miles apart. The sight of a candle in a window from a distance was a sign of “welcome” to those wishing to visit.

While apparently not strictly a Christmas tradition, the practice has been appropriated for the holiday season. But the practice is also rooted in Irish heritage. According to RichardHowe.com:

The candle in the window at Christmas symbolizes many things in Ireland. It’s still a favorite traditional Irish Christmas decoration, harkening back to that ancient Christmas Eve when Mary and Joseph could find no shelter. It is a symbol of Irish hospitality – a way of welcoming Mary and Joseph…and any travelers who might happen to pass by looking for a warm place to stay.

In the days when it was illegal and even dangerous to practice the Catholic faith in Ireland because of the oppressive Penal Laws, the candles seen in the windows of Irish homes at Christmas also signaled traveling priests that this was a home where they would be welcome and where they could safely conduct the traditional Irish Catholic Christmas Mass.

We don’t have windowsills at This American House but we do back at our condo in the city. I came across a big bag of electric candle lights at a thrift store last year so I lugged them back to the city and put them in the windows. The window candle tradition seems to be all about a message of welcoming. I can’t think of a more delightful way to say welcome home.

Image: This American House