Irish Christmas traditions you (maybe) didn’t know about


This year, despite being a little different, we cannot stop celebrating Christmas, even if it is at home with our family. Despite the fact that last November, the Irish government eased the lockdown measures, it is important to be responsible this dates.

In Ireland, Christmas arrives and with it various festivities. Some of them are similar to others made in Europe, while others keep a special look and origin. It is certainly a country that offers a rich tradition in many ways, and these dates clearly show it. Did you know that Christmas is called Nollaig and that Santa Claus is known as Saint Nicholas or Father of Christmas? In addition, his clothing must have the traditional colors of Ireland.

In Ireland, this holiday comes early

Although in many places the festive atmosphere is reflected in the first days of December, Christmas officially lasts until the 25th. But not in Ireland. December 8 is when this long-awaited date is present throughout the environment. Christmas markets, distinctive lights, and a festive atmosphere where friends and family gather are common.

Even January 6, Epiphany Day, is known as “little Christmas” and is the last day of this holidays. This date is also known as “Women’s Christmas” because traditionally they stayed at home without doing housework. The men, for their part, also stay at home, but they take care of the food and remove the decorations. It is even said that not doing so brings bad luck.

How are Christmas decorations in Ireland

Ireland is a magical country full of legends, with forests that cultivate them and of course, Christmas enters all of it. The traditional evergreen tree has been introduced in modern times as holly and ivy were used. The custom was to place a holly ring, which grows precisely at this time, and must be decorated. It is even considered that the more berries the holly has, the more fortune the year to come.

The mistletoe was considered by the ancient Celts as a healing element. In Ireland it is often hung on doors as a symbol of peace and goodwill.

Irish Christmas traditions

A tradition is to put a candle lit all night to welcome Mary and Joseph. This candle should be lit by the youngest of that household and put out by someone named Maria. Once the Christmas Eve dinner is finished, bread made with caraway seeds and raisins, grapes, is placed on the table and left with a glass of milk and a lit candle. This is for Maria and Jose, also leaving the back door open to welcome them.

Of course, Christmas carols are also sung. One of the oldest is “The Wexford Carol”, originally from Enniscorthy, County Wexford. It tells the story of the birth of the Child Jesus and dates from the 12th century.

St. Stephen’s Day

It is celebrated the day after Christmas, December 26. Among the activities is the procession of Wrens children in straw costumes (in Dingle, County Kerry). The clothing should be old and worn or wear white clothing with some green tones, while visiting each home dancing and singing. Athletes practice soccer and horse racing.

And going back a bit, on Christmas morning, a tradition on the Irish coast is to jump into the icy water. This is usually done on the Forty Foot headland in Sandycove, County Dublin or on Portstewart Beach in County Londonderry. And it is usually done for charitable causes.

Finally, in Ireland there are more than one way to wish ‘Merry Christmas’. So “Nollaig shona Duit” (I wish you a Merry Christmas) to all, in Gaelic, and “Ablythe Yuletide”.

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