7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
...I find it ironic that most Christian churches are so down on unwed mothers when, at the time of Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph were not yet married. An unwed teenage mother to boot. Chances are, she was about 15 or 16 at the time of His birth.
... think baby straight jacket. Basically a way of folding a child up so tightly in a blanket that it simply cannot move. In theory...it is supposed to mimic the comfort, warmth and tight security of the womb.
... we are NOT discussing Howard Johnsons or even Red Roof. This is the roadside greasy spoon about the size of a large living or family room. Cramped and crowded as the entire country was on the move. The Romans insisted on a census, so this is the original "home for the holiday" story.
IF you were lucky, and IF you go there in time, there was a meal for sale. When the kettle was empty, it was empty and hope you brought your own bread with you as there was no room service (no rooms) and the kitchen was most definitely closed.
Most places had an adult beverage to serve. After the food and drink were done, the tables were shifted aside and your “room” for the night was any place you could stake out on the floor. Cramped, dirty, must have smelled to high heaven...this isn’t even Super 8, although I suspect there may have been just as many bed bugs!
“in a manger;”
... Remember that we’re talking livestock here. At this time, livestock is CURRENCY! The wealth of the family/tribe depended on their flocks....but stabling the entire herd was more than likely impossible. So...you stabled the BEST of the flock, made sure that “the manger” was clean, free of insects and other vermin (as much as possible) that fodder and clean water were available and, if you were wealthy enough to afford to stable your animals against thieves and predators, you were likely wealthy enough to afford to hire someone to guard them. Since the inn keeper depended on such traveling shepherds for his livelihood, chances are his stable was in better repair and offered cleaner, more presentable conditions than his inn.
We tend to think ill of the inn keeper, but more likely, he gave Mary and Joseph the very best he had...the “inn” included. There she had privacy and without question, the place was cleaner than the inn would have been.