In long ago Ireland the homes were small. There were no spare bedrooms. Guests and travelers of all rank were offered lodging in a large house built expressly for hospitality. It was considered a privilege to be designated as the innkeeper and strong codes applied. One must be ready to receive guests at all times with a fire in the hearth, food for the table, and a lantern lit outside to guide travelers to the door. Breaking with any of these, or several other, codes would result in losing the innkeeper designation.
Placing a lighted candle in the window on Christmas eve is a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they travel looking for shelter, an Irish tradition still practiced today. During the Penal Times, when practicing the Catholic religion was punishable by death, a window candle also indicated a safe place for priests to conduct mass.
Guiding lights. On this Christmas eve may the light we hold within us guide our way to peace and love. For ourselves, our families and all people of the world.