Candles In The Window


Andrew WeidmanCabin Lights

Travel through South Central Pennsylvania after dark, and you’ll see houses adorned with candles, one candle in every window. At first glance you might think they’re Christmas decorations if you’re traveling in December, or maybe they’re Christmas decorations that should have been taken down, if it’s not December. No, window candles are a year-round tradition among the PA Dutch.

I should clarify: these aren’t wax candles; they’re electric candles, and many houses in the area are outfitted with window electrical sockets, often with a ‘candle switch’ located by the front door. Our house has a candle switch.

Window Candle

I can remember helping my grandmother turn her candles on each evening during overnight stays. Her house didn’t have a candle switch, but it was old enough that it had push button switches. Each candle bulb needed to be screwed in to light the candle. Come to think of it, a candle switch wouldn’t have been nearly as fun.

But what do the candles mean? Why do we do it? PA Dutch don’t do anything for no reason, and window candles are no different. They aren’t just ‘for pretty.’

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