My Holiday Wish For You

Holiday_staff_photo_2019

On this Christmas Eve, I wanted to share what Citizen Diplomacy means to me.

Growing up in Ireland, my favourite part of the holidays was Christmas Eve, when the youngest person in the house would get to light the Christmas candle and put it in the window to light the way for Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem.

Lighting the candle was my sign that Christmas had begun, and in a country where it gets dark at 3 in the afternoon in December, there was something magical about looking out the window to see candles twinkling in all my neighbours’ houses.

There are many stories about the origin of this tradition. Some say it started during the Penal Laws, when Catholicism was forbidden, as a sign to priests that they were welcome in this home. In later years, after the Famine and mass emigration, we lit candles in remembrance of those who had left and to welcome returning migrants back home. And today, with a prime minister who is the son of an Indian immigrant, we light Christmas candles for all visitors to Ireland, for the emigrants and the immigrants, who have made Ireland what it is today.

Christmas candles are beacons of hope. They are a sign of welcome for anyone, friend or stranger, who might be passing on Christmas Eve. They say there is room at this inn.

And that is what Citizen Diplomacy means to me.

Each year, Citizen Diplomats – like you – welcome thousands of visitors to Philadelphia. You provide them with food, shelter and hospitality. You open your homes and your hearts, and you provide spaces for dialogue and understanding that make the world a better place.

Your generosity of spirit is a beacon of hope and, as an immigrant to the United States, I am personally grateful for your commitment to keeping Philadelphia an open and welcoming city for strangers like me.

Citizen Diplomats are Christmas candles. 

On the cusp of a new decade here is my wish for you:

May peace and plenty be first through your door this New Year.

And may your home always be too small to hold all your friends

– and all our international visitors.

Thank you for all you do for Citizen Diplomacy. Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year!

Siobhán

Recent Articles

2022 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting: Moving Exchange Forward

May 9, 2022

In March 2022, team members of Citizen Diplomacy listened to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s video remarks during the 2022 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting. Secretary Blinken, and leadership from the Bureau of Education…

Stories of Citizen Diplomacy: Connecting Philadelphia to the World

March 9, 2022

Over the past few days, many of you have reached out about the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, sharing stories of past exchanges and updates from visitors you have hosted, as we all try to make…

Stories of Citizen Diplomacy: Connecting Philadelphia to the World

January 21, 2022

Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia has received a $16,000 grant from PA Humanities as part of its $1.4 million recovery and growth program. Called PA SHARP (Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan), the…

Stories of Citizen Diplomacy: Connecting Philadelphia to the World

January 17, 2022

South Asian a cappella group Penn Masala has been selected to represent the Philadelphia area as a cultural performer at the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The University of Pennsylvania group is one of 84 acts chosen from 506…

Words of Inspiration about Inclusive Leadership

December 13, 2021

In December’s Diplomacy and Dialogue, we sat down with two influential women, Rotem Cohen Kahlon and Uva Coles, and learned about how they’re advocating for Inclusive Leadership in their lives and what it’s like working…

Scroll to Top