Happy Irish Christmas to all of You! :)
Here we are guys with our last post for this year! 🙂
I know you are going to miss us but the school is closing for 1 month and we want to use our last post of this year to speak about Irish Christmas traditions.
Christmas for Irish people, who are Catholics, lasts from Christmas Eve (December 24th) to the feast of Epiphany (January 6th), which some Irish people call ‘Little Christmas‘. The day after Christmas Day, known as St. Stephen’s Day, is also very important in Ireland. Like in the UK, Football matches and Horse racing meetings are traditionally held on this day.
In Irish (or Gaelic) Christmas is ‘Nollaig‘, Santa Claus is known as ‘San Nioclás‘ or ‘Daidí na Nollag‘ (Father Christmas) and Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Nollaig Shona Dhuit‘.
In Ireland, people celebrate Christmas almost in the same way as people in the United Kingdom and the USA do, but they also have many of their own Christmas traditions and customs. Many of these traditions come from the time when the Gaelic culture and religion of the country were suppressed and maybe this is the reason why they have survived into modern times.
Let’s have a look:
-CANDLES IN THE WINDOW-
Lighted candles placed in the window of a house during Christmas eve is still practiced today. It has a number of purposes but in the beginning it was a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph who were travelling and looking for shelter.
A further element of the tradition is that the candle should be lit by the youngest member of the household.
-CHRISTMAS DAY SWIM-
It takes place all over Ireland on Christmas morning, and hundreds of people can be seen jumping off the rock into the Irish Sea wearing only their bathing suits.
We know what your next question is, and the answer is: yes it is cold! Actually the water in the Irish Sea on Christmas Day is usually around 10 degree. Unfortunately, the temperature outside cannot be better, the water is usually about half of the temperature of the water. This is certainly not for the faint of heart but is a proven hangover cure, and participants often receive sponsorship for charities.
-ST. STEPHENS PROCESSION-
It takes place where a pole with a holly bush is carried from house to house and families dress up in old clothes and with blackened faces. In olden times an actual wren would be killed and placed on top of the pole.
This custom has to a large degree disappeared but the tradition of visiting from house to house on St. Stephen’s Day has survived and is very much part of Christmas.
-AWFUL CHRISTMAS SWEATERS-
Have you ever received an ugly sweater? This tradition started off with aunties, grandmothers and relatives giving the most ugly sweaters as presents for Christmas, but somehow Christmas sweaters have turned into a competition on the streets of Ireland.
The woollier and more ridiculously decorated the better.
Nowadays almost everyone eats turkey for dinner on Christmas day, but most people also have roast ham, along with the turkey. Dinner is usually eaten in the mid-afternoon or early evening on Christmas day, though each family will have its own tradition about both the time of eating and the exact combination of foods that make for a ‘real’ Christmas.
The meal will begin with a starter, generally of smoked salmon or prawns, soup or melon.
This is followed by a main course of roast turkey (or goose) and ham, accompanied by bread stuffing, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy and sometime cranberry or bread sauce.
Dessert hardly seems a possibility after that little lot – but this is not an ordinary day! Popular choices are Christmas pudding with brandy butter or sherry sauce, mince pies or just a slice of Christmas cake. A sherry trifle is a very common alternative to fruit pudding for Christmas day desserts. Made by soaking sponge cakes in sherry and with lots of fruit, jelly and cream, it is a lighter but still very rich option.
-DECORATING THE HOUSE-
Houses are decorated with natural material such as holly, pine cones and ivy but also glass, wooden or plastic ornaments. Natural Christmas trees, usually Noble Fir, are by far the most popular choice, though fake ones are used. Getting the tree is itself a bit of a tradition, with families having a favorite type of tree and often all going together to chose the perfect specimen. Trees are decorated with lights and trinkets, generally the same ones year after year, though some style conscious people create (or buy) a whole new look for their tree annually. The 8th of December, or around that time, is the usual date for putting up and decorating the tree.
We also want to use this blog to say Thank You
FOR FOLLOWING OUR POSTS,
FOR CHOOSING US AS YOUR LANGUAGE SCHOOL
FOR THE TIME YOU HAVE SPENT WITH US
AND WE WISH YOU ALL THE BEST FOR THE NEW YEAR!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
from Travelling Languages’ team!