Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
Christmas is celebrated every year in different parts of the world. countries have their own habits and traditions on this Christian festival. There are lots of Irish Christmas Traditions as well like the traditional Christmas dinner, the Christmas Swim or Hunting the Wren.
For Irish people is typical to have a lot of Christmas decorations. Lights, tinsel and baubles are typical for every family home, shopping centres and public spaces. A Christmas tree is in every home as well. Families usually decorate the tree on the first day of the holy advent calendar. An angel on top of Christmas tree and presents laying underneath are common. A large candle placed in the front window of the family home is also important. It symbolizes guidance for Mary and Joseph before the birth of Christ. Christmas ornaments like angels, elves, snowflakes, Santas are placed on the fireplace and tables in family homes.
Attending church at Christmas
Some time ago there was a traditional a Vigil Mass that was usually held at Midnight. Each member lit a holy candle that had been blessed by the bishop or high priest. People sang traditional Christmas carols such as The Wexford Carol during their midnight service. Some people still go to the Church on Christmas day and keeping some Christian traditions.
The Irish Christmas dinner
On Christmas evening families commonly meet together at the one table. A traditional Irish Christmas dinner consists of turkey, ham, chicken, stuffing, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, vegetables and a Christmas Pudding or even homemade Christmas mince pies. For children a treat is also prepared, it is usually a Selection Box of Chocolate bars.
St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day)
Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr. St Stephen´s Day is celebrated the day after Christmas Day. It is known as well as Boxing Day and Wren’s Day. “Hunting the Wren” is an ancient ritual. In its original form a wren was hunted, killed and hung on a holly bush. Nowadays a fake wren is attached to a pole and people dress up in straw costumes and parade through towns and villages.
Traditional on this day in Ireland is also horse racing, for example at places like the Leopardstown Racecourse on the southern edge of Dublin. Some people attend the races, some even purchase packages with special seating, meals and race cards.
In Ireland on this public holiday banks, schools and government offices are closed. It is a good opportunity to get out of the house for family meals or have a drink with friends.
The Christmas Swim
On Christmas morning there is a tradition that people go to swim in the sea. The temperature is low and water is cold but people have enough courage on this day to jump to the sea. The most famous place for this swim is the Forty Foot Rock, south of Dublin.
Little Christmas known in the rest of the world as Feast of the Epiphany is on the 6th of January. It marks the official end of the Christmas season. The tree and all the Christmas decorations are usually taken down on this day and put into storage. It is also known in Ireland as Women´s Christmas. Traditionally the women have a rest and the men of the house take over for the day and prepare meals.