Myths, Mysteries and Mayhem Issue #3, December 25, 2016
I wish you the happiest of holidays!!
I first want to thank those of you who responded to my Facebook ad regarding my journey as an historical fiction novelist, writing about the Irish Revolutionary period 1915 -1923. I am excited to have you join our group and hope that I can give you interesting Irish historical and mythical information along our route.
The Irish have a custom of lighting and placing a single candle in their front window on Christmas Eve. This custom dates back at least as far as the seventeenth century at a time when the English persecution of the Irish Catholics forbade the practice of Catholic Christianity at the penalty of death for practitioners. Yet Catholic service was conducted in secret throughout Ireland. The risk was particularly high at Christmas time when services were most prevalent and priests would come to Catholic houses to pray in secret. The candle indicated a Catholic home. To confuse the oppressive English, the standard explanation for the candle was that would light the way for Joseph, Mary and Jesus to find lodging for the night. A poem was created by Eric Barr in 2010 to commemorate this practice:
“Candle burning warm
Candle burning bright,
Guide the Holy Family to this home tonight.
Wandering the world,
Looking for a bed,
Anywhere to lay the tiny Baby’s head.
On this Christmas Eve,
May their travels cease,
Jesus, Mary, Joseph–stay and be at peace.”
So, whatever your religion, I hope that you all will agree with the concept of religious freedom and freedom from oppression. This, in fact, was precisely what the Irish Republicans were seeking back in 1915 when they picked up the call for freedom once again. It is my hope that we can all reflect on their moral courage and apply it to our own time here on earth.
I wish you all very happy holidays and look forward to our interaction in the new year.
Stephen Finlay Archer
Historical Fiction Author of The Irish Clans Series of Novels