by Josh Davies
History and Heritage
When it comes to the festive season, no one does it quite like the Irish. From Guinness and mince pies to straw hats and candles, Christmas in Ireland is full of traditions.
A traditional Irish Christmas has a lot of crossover with other world nations. However, many traditions are unique to Christmas in Ireland. Whether it is the festivities or the food, you have the chance to enjoy a traditional Irish Christmas this year.
Many of these traditions have been going for hundreds of years and offer insight into the heritage of the Emerald Isle.
So, sing your carols, stoke the fire and enjoy your traditional Christmas in Ireland…
If you are lucky enough to spend your Christmas in Ireland, St Stephen’s Day falls on December 26th. In some places, the St Stephen’s Day celebrations include The Wren Boy Procession.
Across Ireland, St Stephen’s Day has become a day of celebration. Many head out to grab a bargain at the St Stephen’s Day sales, while others head to the racetrack to have a dabble on the ponies.
Each family has their own Irish Christmas traditions. After a day of eating, drinking, and opening presents, St Stephen’s Day is the perfect opportunity to recharge and enjoy time with friends.
If you are travelling to Ireland for your Christmas celebration, you will most likely be there on St Stephen’s Day. Head out and get involved with the local traditions. Enjoy some quality time with your friends and family.
For a traditional Irish Christmas, lighting a candle in your front window is a welcoming sign. Traditionally, the candle was a sign to travellers that they had a place to rest for the night.
Some origins of the candle are thought to represent a sign to Catholic priests. For many decades, Irish Catholics were forced to accept the Church of Ireland. That led to secretive ways of communicating with one another and the priests. The candle was an invitation to the priest to say mass in the owner’s home.
While no one is sure of the true origins, we know that the candle is a welcoming sign for all. Whether you are celebrating Christmas in Ireland or America, you will never be too far away from the symbolisation of a candle.
Just don’t try and enter someones home if you see a candle display in their window.
We all know that Santa puts a lot of effort into delivering toys to the children of the world. So how do we repay his festive kindness? In Germany, Santa is treated to personalised letters, while in Argentina, the reindeer look forward to a snack of hay and water.
However, Irelands traditions are a little closer to home. By leaving out Mince pies and a pint of Guinness, you can be sure that Santa will be well rested after a stop at your house.
You may even want to leave a few carrots for Santa’s reindeer to enjoy on their long journey around the world.
The Wren Boy Procession is an Irish Christmas tradition. On December 26th, groups of boys would dress up in old clothes and straw hats. They would dance from door to door, singing with the body of a dead Wren. The celebration has links to Celtic, Christian and Norse theology but most likely has roots in all three.
Many people in Ireland do not celebrate The Wren Boy Procession anymore. However, the places that do, have adapted and it is a chance for communities to raise money for charity.
Thankfully, the celebrations no longer feature real Wrens, and the focus is now more on the dancing, singing and merriment. Now open to boys and girls, The Wren Procession features live music, parades and traditional food.
If you want to witness these mischievous celebrations, you can head to the rural areas in County Kerry and County Limerick. One of the most notable towns that still celebrate The Wren Procession is Dingle.
Head out, put on your straw hat and enjoy a day of merriment with your family as you celebrate The Wren Procession with the locals.
Everyone has their food traditions at Christmas. To enjoy a classic Irish Christmas, try a mouth-watering potato gratin. The gratin usually combines a delicious mixture of potatoes, cream, cheese, garlic and onion. The layers of thinly sliced potatoes combine with strong cheddar cheese to create a hearty side dish.
Potatoes are a common ingredient in Irish cooking, and it is customary to find four different styles of potato at your Christmas dinner. With roast, baked, mashed and gratin often featuring on a traditional Irish Christmas dinner, there is no limit to how many you can add. Some may even say that potatoes are the real talking point of a Christmas meal in Ireland.
If you want to make your potato gratin, head out and source the freshest local ingredients. The flavours you will get from locally grown potatoes mixed with cheese is one that you won’t want to forget.
Choose an Irish cottage to celebrate Christmas in Ireland this year.
On January 6th, Little Christmas is a chance to rest and look back on the festive season. Many believed that it was bad luck to clear decorations before this date.
Before the Gregorian calendar, January 6th represented the Feast of the Epiphany. It was the original date that many people celebrated as the birth of Jesus. As people started to celebrate the birth on December 25th, the period became the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve candles in the window will mark the end of the twelve days of Christmas.
Christmas in Ireland is a magical time for friends and family. Enjoy a traditional Irish Christmas this year with a visit to one of Hogans Christmas Cottages. The perfect way to enjoy a stress-free Christmas in Ireland.
Image Credits – Puamelia – (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Hi, I'm Josh. I joined the Sykes team in 2019 and love all things travel.
I enjoy spending my time travelling throughout the w...
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