Christmas Around the World - Ireland - The British Hamper Company

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Christmas Around The World - Ireland

05 Nov 2020

We leave Christmas in Indonesia and travel 12,138km Northwest to Ireland. Full of history, rugged landscapes and hearty food, Ireland is famous for Guinness, Riverdance and leprechauns!

Ireland is jam packed with fabulous places to visit, including the Blarney Stone, Giants Causeway and the amazing Long Room library in Trinity College where the Book of Kells is situated - it's like being on a Harry Potter film set!

Cobh, just outside Cork, was the location of the White Star Line offices where the final 123 passengers boarded the Titanic on its fateful voyage. The port was known as Queenstown at the time of the disaster. You can learn all about the ship and its passengers at the Titanic Experience in Cobh.

Ireland have won the Eurovision Song Contest more times that any other country with 7 wins to date!

So, how do they celebrate Christmas in Ireland?

When

Christmas is celebrated on 25th December in Ireland until 6th January (Epiphany - although not as widely celebrated more recently).

Religious Influence

More than 75% of the Irish population are Roman Catholics.

Decorations

A traditional decoration that isn’t as popular anymore was a tall candle that would be placed on the window sill of the largest window in the house and then would be left to burn all night on Christmas Eve to welcome Mary and Joseph. Christmas Trees are becoming more popular, but it used to be holly and ivy that would decorate the home.

 

Christmas around the world - Ireland - holly

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

 

Customs

Santa Claus may be referred to as ‘San Nioclás’ and he brings presents for children during the night of Christmas Eve.

St. Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) is celebrated with horse races and football matches. The Wren Boys Procession takes place on St. Stephen’s Day and is a very old tradition that consists of young men and women dressing in home made costumes, going from house to house carrying a long pole with a holly bush on the top singing a rhyme about a wren bird. They may be accompanied by small handheld instruments (harmonicas, violins etc.) and may sometimes ask for money for ‘the starving wren’. Not many places do this procession anymore but some towns including Dingle in Country Kerry still uphold the tradition.

Christmas markets are popular from 8th December onwards. Carol singing is popular, the Wexford Carol is one of the longest sung Christmas carols and it tells the story of the Nativity. Mistletoe is hung in doorways to symbolise peace and goodwill, and the classic ‘kissing under the mistletoe’ is also relatively common.

On Christmas morning, all over Ireland’s coastline, people may take part in the Christmas Day swim in the freezing sea, usually for charity.

On January 6th, the men are supposed to do all the housework while the women take the day off, this includes cleaning, taking down the decorations, and cooking.

Food

Traditionally, the main Christmas treat would be a round cake full of caraway seeds and each person of the house would get one to themselves. Now a rich fruit cake covered with marzipan and icing is more popular (Christmas Cake). The main Christmas dish is usually turkey, and maybe spiced beef which can be served hot or cold. Christmas pudding is also a common dessert.

Our next destination looks at Christmas in Israel.