On Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph were on the last part of their journey to Bethlehem. When they arrived they could not find anywhere to stay. In every house in Ireland a lighted candle was placed in the window, on Christmas Eve, in memory of that journey. The candlelight would glow in the winter dark as a sign of welcome to Mary and Joseph.
The mother’s first job on Christmas Eve was to get the Christmas candle ready. She would take the biggest turnip shoe could find and scrap out a hole in the center. Into this would go the big red Christmas candle. Tinsel would be put at the top and wound down around the candle, tying it at the end. Bits of holly would be poked into the holes around the turnip. When it was finished it would be put on the kitchen windowsill and paper flowers stuck in it. That evening all the family would gather together to light the candle.
First a prayer would be said for those living and dead. The youngest child would light the candle and the father would say, “Go mbeirimid beo ad an am seo arid”. May we all live to see this day next year.