The Irish people are known for their many great customs and cultural influences in the west. They are especially known for Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day.
These two-holiday gems have their origins from the Irish people.
However, did you know that the Irish people also celebrate Christmas? Let’s discover how Christmas is celebrated on the Emerald Isle.
Christmas in Ireland: The Big Picture
The Irish people are primarily Catholics.
They celebrate Christmastime like most western countries except they have their own unique Christmas customs.
Don’t forget that the Irish people officially open their Christmas season on December 8.
When this day comes, many cities in Ireland transform into a winter wonderland.
Homes are being decorated, people are getting into the holiday spirit and everyone starts to prepare for the Yule Tide season.
Many businesses, schools and retail shops will do the same.
People all over Ireland (or at least in the bigger cities) typically participate in a Christmas swim or plunge for charity.
This type of practice is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart. People are literally jumping into an icy sea to raise money for a charitable cause.
This is a popular and fun thing to do in Ireland during Christmas. Only experienced people should participate.
Each city, town, and village will have their own unique Christmas twist and perks during the holiday.
They will celebrate the larger customs and traditions as a whole but they do their own thing as well.
This helps to make Christmas a different experience all over Ireland even though everyone basically celebrates the holiday in the same way.
Keep in mind that December 26 is “Boxing Day” or “St. Stephen Day” depending on where you live in Ireland.
The purpose of this holiday is to give people another day off during the Christmas season.
It was also used to honor St. Stephen from the Bible who was martyred for Christ and for giving servants presents.
People still honor Boxing Day with their Christmas festivities.
Church and Christmastime in Ireland
The church is important to Irish people.
o, Christmastime is a time for attending church for many families.
They will usually head out to mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.
Some churches will remain open from Christmas Eve all the way up to January 6th to commemorate the Feast of Epiphany.
They really enjoying honoring the birth of Christ and worshiping together.
Decorating Trees and Giving Christmas Gifts
The Irish gave us the custom of decorating Christmas trees.
This custom goes all the way back to the Druids who would deck out their trees as a part of their religious ceremonies.
The Christmas trees in Ireland are fancily decorated with all sorts of items. Many people use traditional or natural decorations and a lot of people use store brought ornaments as well.
Irish people typically pass out gifts after they have been to church and have eaten Christmas dinner.
Irish people typically like to give and get gifts, and this is a big deal for them. Many Irish kids do anticipate toys and electronics on Christmas day.
However, some kids like traditional toys as well.
Other Irish Traditions for Christmas
Irish people still carol during the holidays, but this practice has fallen out of style in Ireland as it has in other places around the west.
People light big candles to honor Mary and Joseph. Families will also put up stockings and stuff them with gifts.
A Wren Boys Procession or parade is a part of Boxing Day and is often interwoven in the Christmas celebration.
Irish people typically eat round cakes with caraway seeds on Christmas. They also eat fruit cakes, spiced beef, Christmas Pudding, turkey, hams and special drinks such as eggnog.
The Gaelic way for saying Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas is: “Nollaig Shona”.
It is interesting to know how people wish Happy or Merry Christmas in other languages. Ultimately, Christmas in Ireland is all about honoring Christ, being with family and upholding traditions.
Learn More With the Help of Video
Main Points About Christmas in Ireland
- The buzz of the Christmas festivities starts from the 8th of December.
- Mistletoe is not only for kissing in Ireland. It is believed by many Irish that it has great healing powers. Hence, it is now put at the doorway as a symbol of goodwill and peace.
- So many delicious delicacies are available at the Christmas meal table. Some of them include a round cake, turkey, and Christmas pudding.
- The midnight mass on Christmas eve is very popular. Families use this time to also remember loved ones and offer prayers.
- Christmas trees, nativity scenes and other Christmas decorations add more warmth and merriness to the already merry Christmas in Ireland.
In Ireland, the Christmas tree hasn’t been around for that long. In the early days, holly and ivy were used instead, and the superstitious belief that the more berries there are on the holly bush, the better luck the next year will bring.
The mistletoe is hung in doorways as a symbol of peace and goodwill, as the Celts believed that it held healing powers, long before it started being used to steal kisses.
If you have been to Ireland on Christmas or stay in Ireland then do share your first-hand experience in the comments below.
Word Cloud for Christmas in Ireland
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Ireland. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.