For the Irish, apart from Christmas being a festival of joy and laughter, it also has religious undertones. Celebrations in Ireland begin on the 6th of December and last until the Feast of Epiphany, on the 6th of January. A few practices have been carried forward through centuries and are similar to the customs followed in other countries. In Ireland, Christmas truly begins when the streets are decorated with Christmas trees and stores display figurines and animated scenes from the Bible in their windows. Ireland has certain unique Christmas traditions but more importantly, each family has a distinctive way of celebrating it. The country of Ireland is known for their pomp and show during this season, as numerous lights and decorations are seen in churches, houses, shopping areas and street corners. Cribs are built to denote the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the 3 Kings. Another characteristic of the Irish way of festivities for Christmas is Midnight Mass.
Irish Christmas Customs
People in Ireland light candles and perch them up on windows, during the Eve of Christmas, to signify the Joseph and Mary's search for shelter. Candles are usually red in colour and adorned with twigs of holly. Most homes are ornamented with tinsel, lights and baubles.
The Christmas tree is set-up before the first day on the Advent Calendar. It is typically decorated with an angel/star on top of the tree. Many families place Christmas ornaments such as stockings, candy canes, elves and snowflakes on their fireplace to enhance the festive mood.
Gifts are placed under the tree and remain unopened until the Christmas morning. Santa Claus is popular figure in Ireland; he is dressed slightly different as compared to that of other countries. It is believed that Claus enters a house, on Christmas Eve, through the chimney and delivers gifts. Most kids leave behind a stocking that is normally filled with goodies, by the morning.
On Christmas Eve in Ireland, some houses place a thick and tall candle on the sill of the largest window, after sunset. It is allowed to burn the entire night and symbolizes the welcome light for Joseph and Mary.
Since Ireland is a Catholic country, every member of the family attends a Christian mass together. This is held at midnight and involves each member of the congregation, who holds a candle that has been blessed by a High Priest or Arch Bishop.
The conventional menu for an Irish Christmas dinner includes goose or stuffed turkey, boiled potatoes, ham, brussel sprouts, carrot and cauliflower and followed by a Christmas pudding or a Christmas cake.
Selection Box For Kids
In modern times, children are given chocolates, popularly known as the selection box. This happens after the Christmas dinner and is mandatory. After the meal, a table is set with milk and bread and the door is left unlatched. This symbolizes hospitality and thus, is done to welcome the family of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus into their homes.
Celebrating St. Stephens Day
Ireland celebrates St. Stephens Day, one day after Christmas. During this time, families visit the local church and join their near and dear ones in celebrating and rejoicing.
Feast Of Epiphany
The Feast of Epiphany which is on the 6th of January and is also celebrated as Women's Christmas, in Ireland. At this time, the men in the family are supposed to carry on household chores such as cooking and cleaning. Women have a chance to take a holiday and visit neighbouring houses.
The Irish follow the traditions and customs of Christmas, irrespective of how ancient it may be. This is the probably one of the main reasons why Christmas celebrations in Ireland are such a big deal.
Christmas in Ireland is celebrated with great enthusiasm and show. Read about Irish Christmas traditions and learn more about the Christmas traditions in Ireland.