Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Around the World--Ireland

Christmas Traditions in Ireland
First, Kathleen at Blog O' the Irish and Celticlady's Reviews shares with us the traditions of decorations and ornaments in the Irish family home.  Kathleen is the go-to lady on everything Irish and so it's only appropriate that she shares with us traditions of her Irish heritage.  Thank you, Kathleen!

Christmas decorations & ornaments in the family home

Most, if not all, Irish families decorate their homes with lights, tinsel and baubles. A Christmas tree is usually erected in the family home on the first day of the holy advent calendar. The tree will be beautifully decorated with an angel on top, presents will lay underneath as seen with many family homes around the world.

A large candle is placed in the front window of the family home, to symbolize guidance for the Virgin Mary and Joseph before the birth of Christ. The symbolic candle is explained to the Children but to add to the atmosphere to the Christmas holiday kids are told it also help Santa find his way to their home.

Many homes will place Christmas ornaments on the fireplace, tables and anywhere else that puts them on display. The ornaments usually consist of angels, elves, snowflakes, Santa’s and anything else that would represent Christmas. There is no special reason behind the display of Christmas ornaments, only that it helps with the atmosphere of such a special holiday. See the list of Irish Christmas decorations if you would like an Irish themed Christmas. (from Kathleen--Blog O' the Irish)


The majority of Ireland are Roman Catholic so Christmas is a largely religious time of year.  However, many of their traditions are very similar to those celebrated in other countries.  

The streets of villages, towns, and cites are decorated with holy symbols, lights, and large Christmas trees located central to the community.  Nativity scenes which celebrate the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the Three Kings are displayed in front of most churches.

Irish families attend a midnight vigil mass and each member of the congregation lights a candle blessed by the bishop or high priest.

The feast of Christmas is celebrated in Ireland with a large meal.  It is the biggest meal cooked in a family home out of all the meals prepared throughout the year.  Christmas dinner preparation is usually began on Christmas Eve...slow cooking the turkey and preparing the vegetables and other dishes that go along with the feast.  An Irish Christmas dinner consists of turkey, ham, chicken, stuffing, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and various other vegetables.

Children are given chocolate as a treat after the Christmas dinner that is more commonly known as a Selection Box, a selection of chocolate bars.  Families are strict that everyone must eat their Christmas dinner before receiving their selection box.  Families usually gather around the television to watch classic Christmas Movies such as “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

St. Stephen Day (also known as Boxing Day) is another important day during an Irish Christmas; it is the day after Christmas Day.  Most families will treat St. Stephen’s Day as day of rest with a visit to their local church and also celebrate with another large meal. St Stephen’s Day may also bring relations to the household to join in on the Christmas celebrations.



  1. Thank you for sharing these Irish Christmas traditions!

  2. Very cool. I love learning about how others celebrate. What's the dessert thingy? Did I miss that?

  3. I always like hearing about other peoples traditions.


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