CHRISTMAS season in Ireland is a beautiful and fun-filled affair. There are several events, traditions, and customs during CHRISTMAS time which make this an enchanting time of the year. Though Irish CHRISTMAS does share some similarities with CHRISTMAS in USA and England, there are some traditions that are uniquely Irish and make CHRISTMAS there an amazing experience.

In many countries, holiday events occur before CHRISTMAS and continue on up until CHRISTMAS day, when the festivities end. However, CHRISTMAS is different in Ireland. The festivities start very close to CHRISTMAS day and continue afterward up until the New Year and beyond. .

Homes in Ireland are fully cleaned from top to bottom in preparation for the CHRISTMAS season. Mantles are often decorated with holly and mistletoe is hung in doorways. According to tradition, you’re supposed to kiss another while you’re under the mistletoe. This tradition is not only popular in Ireland, but in many other countries including the US.

CHRISTMAS day is a time for families, so gatherings are often quite large. Dinner is generally served early in the afternoon instead of later at night. The main course of the meal is usually a goose, chicken, or a turkey. Sides include stuffing, gravy, and, of course, potatoes. This is usually the largest meal of the year for many. Dessert is usually a CHRISTMAS pudding with a rum-based sauce. Some families have what they refer to as “American biscuit tins,” tin cans full of layers of cookies. The rule when eating from the biscuit tin is that the first layer must be completed before anyone can start on the second layer.Irish families do decorate yards and trees as well, much like in America and England. Whole neighborhoods will put up lights, trying to outdo one another with CHRISTMAS cheer. The trees are often decorated with holly and ribbons, and set near the windows to allow them to be seen by passersby. During the holiday season, it is common for families to give a small gift of money to those who perform regular services (such as the postman). This giving is to show appreciation to those who do for others. The amount may not be much, but if every family gives a little it adds up quickly for these service workers, giving them a pretty good CHRISTMAS Bonus.

Advent Calendars are a popular item among Irish children. Beginning the first day of Advent and every day thereafter, a little door is opened in the calendar and a chocolate or small toy is revealed. This is a fun way for children to count down the days until Santa comes.

Ireland is a predominantly Roman Catholic country and, as with many other Roman Catholic areas of the world, CHRISTMAS mass is on the night of CHRISTMAS Eve instead of the morning of CHRISTMAS. It is usually conducted and midnight and everyone who attends the mass is given a candle, blessed by the bishop of the church, to light. Children do not leave out stockings, but sacks to be filled with toys on CHRISTMAS morning. After dinner is eaten on CHRISTMAS Eve, it is common for families to set aside milk and bread (or mince pies and Guinness) as a sign of hospitality. Another tradition is to leave the door unlatched (I don’t really recommend it, though). This could be a part of the tradition of the lighted window.

The story goes that a wren gave away St. Stephen’s presence when he was hiding away and he was caught and killed. Wrens have since been referred to as “the Devils Birds.” Because of this, “wren boys” go door to door in what is known as the “Wren Boys Procession” caroling for treats while carrying a dead wren on a stick. Today, the wren is not an actual dead bird, but rather a representation made of plastic or rubber.




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