Christmas is nearly upon us and we’ve no doubt you’ve started counting down by now! Christmas is celebrated nearly everywhere around the world, whether it’s the majority of the population or just a small area of a country. Here in Ireland, we are huge fans of the Christmas holiday. While we celebrate it in a similar fashion to the UK, we do have a few Christmas traditions of our own.
Why not take a look at some of these popular Irish traditions and see if you fancy incorporating them into your own Christmas this year?
For those who are Catholic, Christmas begins on Christmas Eve and ends of what is known as the Feast of Epiphany on 6th January. While this isn’t widely celebrated, it is a tradition that Christmas decorations are usually taken down on 6th January; it is considered bad luck if done otherwise!
This particular day in January is also known as women’s Christmas in some parts of Ireland. Traditionally, women had the day off to enjoy themselves while the men cooked and cleaned!
Candle in the window
Once a widespread tradition throughout Ireland, this is regressing somewhat in recent years. On Christmas Eve, families would place a candle in the window of their homes. This was supposed to symbolise a welcoming sight for Joseph and Mary as they wandered trying to find a place to stay.
The candle was used as a sign that there might be a place to sleep and perhaps even food. It was left to burn all night.
St. Stephen’s Day
Boxing Day is known as St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland, and it’s a great day for football and horse racing as it is in the UK. However, the day is also known for other reasons too. The Wren Boy Procession is a longstanding tradition, and there are many different stories as to its origin.
One such story involves a plot against soldiers during penal times, whereby an ambush was about to take place. A group of wrens pecked on the soldiers’ drums to wake them, and the wren became known as the ‘Devil Bird’. This event is commemorated by a procession involving a holly bush on a pole, adorned with a (fake) dead wren.
This later evolved into a carolling event around Ireland!
Christmas Day Swim
This tradition is becoming more popular in lots of different areas, but one of the most famous Christmas Day swims takes places at Forty Foot Rock, just south of Dublin.
While it isn’t for the faint hearted, it’s always a great occasion and you’ll be amazed at the sight of people jumping into the cold water! Many people also choose to do it for charity.
Whichever way you are spending your Christmas this year, don’t forget to wear your Irish sweater proudly and stay warm and comfortable all day; and looking great of course! And remember, if you want to show off your Irish Gaelic and wish your loved ones a happy Christmas, ‘Nollaig shona dhuit!’.