Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Time in Ireland!

Christmas will be here soon and Santa will be arriving to deliver presents for all the good boys and girls. Like other countries around the world, Christmas in Ireland is celebrated with great joy and enthusiam. In Ireland, there are some unique traditions around celebrating Christmas. Read on to see how families in Ireland celebrate Christmas.

Candle in the Window
The tradition of placing a lighted candle in the window of a family house on Christmas eve is still very popular in Ireland. It is said that the candle is a sign of welcome for Mary and Joseph who on the first Christmas eve were looking for somewhere to stay. According to the tradition, the candle is light by the youngest member of the family and should be extinguished by a girl with with the name "Mary". The name Mary was very popular in Ireland in the old days.
Decorating your house both inside and outside is very popular in Ireland. The holly bush grows wild. It is a tradition to decorate the family home with holly during Christmas. A holly wreath is often placed on the front door of the house. This is a tradition that has been passed down through the years. In modern times in Ireland, a lot of families now use electric Christmas lights on the outsides of their homes. All decorations are traditionally taken down during Little Christmas (January 6th). It is considered bad luck to take them down any earlier than this. Christmas decorations are then put away and stored until the next Christmas!
Santa Claus
In Ireland, Santa Claus or "Santie" arrives late on Christmas Eve after all the children have gone to bed. He leaves presents under the tree and fills the Christmas stockings. The tradition is to leave something for Santa to help him on his long journey. So maybe Santa will be left a mince pie and a glass of milk or Guinness! And of course, a carrot for Rudolph the Reindeer.
The traditional Gaelic Greeting at Christmas
The traditional Irish or 'Gaelic' for 'Happy Christmas' is 'Nollaig Shona Dhuit!', pronounced 'null-ig hun-a-dit'.
A Time for Family
Christmas is a very important time in Ireland for the family. Older children who have moved away from home always try to return home for the Christmas celebrations. It is one of the few days during the year when all the family can be together and spend time together. All shops and pubs are closed on Christmas day in Ireland. On Christmas morning, there is great excitement when the family members exchange gifts and the children open their presents from Santa. Most families normally attend Christmas services at church and then the family spends the day and night together. A great feast is had for Christmas dinner which usually includes a turkey, ham, Christmas cake and maybe some wine or guinness.

We would be very interested to hear about Christmas traditions in other countries. If you are reading this and from another country, please write to us and tell us all about your Christmas. We would be delighted to hear about it. Or if you are in Ireland to learn English during the Christmas period, please tell us all about your experience.

Happy Christmas and a happy new year to everyone!

Hope Santa Comes!