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Festive Traditions in Ireland

The Irish are well-known for their love of Christmas time. Between the festive lights, to the beautifully decorated shop windows, you can't help but feel the festive spirit all around the Emerald Isle. The Irish have many traditions that they love and cherish and Christmas time is no different!  

Whether you are living in Ireland, or planning your festive trip over, it is good to know some of the Christmas traditions loved by the Irish! 

Toy Show:

To start it has to be The Late Late Toy Show! This tradition is still loved by everyone all across Ireland, no matter your age. It signals the official beginning of the Christmas period and puts everyone in the festive spirit. More importantly, the Toy Show is a reason for families and friends to get together for an evening and have a few laughs.  

December 8th:

There are two Irish Christmas traditions associated with the date, the 8th of December, in Ireland. The first is the more traditional of the two, and that is putting up the Christmas tree and decorations in your home. From this date onwards, you will really start to notice all the decorations going up! The second tradition on the 8th revolves around shopping! On this day many families travel up to the capital to do their Christmas shopping - some people even take the day off work or school! 

The 12 Pubs of Christmas:

The 12 Pubs of Christmas (‘12 Pubs’) is the annual drinking game popular during the festive season. Predominately used as an excuse for a group of pals to get together and enjoy a few drinks before they return home for Christmas, it has become a staple during this time of the year. Dressed up in your best Christmas jumpers, you follow a route and have a drink at each pub along the way. Although only few ever finish, it is a great reason to get your friends together for a night out. 

Candle in the Window:

One of the more common Christmas traditions in Ireland is placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve. Symbolically, the candle represented a welcome to Joseph and Mary as they wandered in search of a place to stay. This candle would be a signal to strangers that there would be an offering of food or shelter if needed.  

Treats for Santa & his Reindeers:

The old tradition we have all heard since we were kids was to leave out milk and cookies for Santa Clause to enjoy during his night of worldwide travels. However, in Ireland we like to put our own spin on it. Children leave out some interesting treats for Santy, including a pint of Guinness, mince pies (pastry tarts with candied fruits inside) and a big carrot for all the reindeer. 

A Christmas Swim:

One of the more ‘chilling’ festive traditions is the annual Christmas Day swim. As you can imagine, the weather in Ireland is pretty chilly this time of the year and the water is ice cold. Many families and friends meet at their local beach and jump in for a swim. This is usually done for charity, but it's one way to wake the body up! 

Nollaig na mBan:

Translating to ‘Women’s Christmas’, this day falls on the 6th of January and marks the official end of the Christmas season. With women traditionally taking on most of the housework in the past, this was the day that men would take over and allow the women to rest. It was also the day that all the Christmas decorations were taken down and put away. The celebration of Nollaig na mBan is now seen as a day for ladies to come together and celebrate their hard work over the past year. 

Nollaig Shona Duit!

December 8, 2022
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