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"I will hold Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." - Charles Dickens.

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    The lighting of candles at Christmas originated far back in time when it was part of early sun worship: like bonfires, candles were lit in the depths of winter in an attempt to magically strengthen the weakened sun.

    The Church tried to stamp this ancient custom out, but, instead it invested the lighting of the candles with a new meaning. Candles were lit so it is said to symbolise the divine light that was believed to illuminate the world. Another tradition is that candles were meant to recall the lights people lit in their windows at the time of Jesus Christ's birth, so as to let Mary and Joseph know that they would be welcome in their homes.

    Another association of the lighting of candles was the period in Irish history when the Catholic religion was banned. A Catholic family would signal when it was safe for a priest to come in their home to celebrate Mass by placing a lighted candle in the window. It is in this way Christmas candles are a silent tribute to those people of all faiths, who, have faced persecution and who have remained loyal to their beliefs.

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