How to Celebrate an Irish Christmas

Two Parts:Christmas EventsChristmas Decorations

Have you ever wanted to celebrate Christmas the Irish way? Read on to find out about the different ways you can!

Part 1
Christmas Events

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    Know what events occur. In Ireland, there are many Christmas events, like midnight masses and horse races. Some people make it their mission to attend every single one of these, so if you want an Irish Christmas, you'll have to too!
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    Attend masses. In Ireland there are many masses you can attend to celebrate Christmas.
    • Christmas Eve mass is held at midnight in most churches, where family and friends come together to meet in a church that's packed to the rafters.
    • Christmas Day mass is even more hectic, where most people with children tend to come at around 10 a.m., so expect madness with the church full to the brim with screaming babies and fed-up adults alike.
    • Go to as many masses as you can, as they are a great way for you to celebrate Christmas the Irish way.
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    Attend the St Stephen's Day Races. St. Stephen is the patron saint of horses, so it is only right that the biggest horse race of the year is held in Leopardstown, Dublin, on his feast day, December 26th. Over 20,000 people attend the race each year. Attend this race if you want to spend Christmas in Ireland the right way!
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    Celebrate Women's Christmas. On January 6th, Christmas celebrations are generally finished in Ireland. Tradition has it that women get a day off and men do all of the housework for the day. Many women go out and enjoy themselves shopping or having meals with friends. This comes from the ancient Christian Holy Day, the Feast of Epiphany, which is January 6th. Also, women were generally given time off as maids after Christmas was over long ago, so the tradition has held.
    • Women's Christmas is called Nollaig na mBan (Null-ig na man) in Irish.
    • Take the day off with your friends - if you're a woman, that is!

Part 2
Christmas Decorations

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    Consider using Irish Christmas decorations. Many traditional Christmas decorations come from Ireland, and also many weird ones!
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    Place a candle in the window. Leave a lit candle in the window on Christmas Eve, just before you go to bed. This candle is meant to symbolize a light indicating that Mary and Joseph were welcome to stay the night in the house. It also indicated a safe place to hold mass, because during Penal Times, this was not allowed.
    • Let the youngest family member lights the candle. In older times, only a girl named Mary (a very common name in former times) would extinguish the flame. Although the latter isn't required, this is a nice family tradition for you to do on Christmas.
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    Lay the table. Set the table after finishing your Christmas Eve meal.
    • Put a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, a jug of milk and a large, lit candle on the table.
    • Leave your kitchen door open as a sign that Mary and Joseph are welcome to avail of the meal.
    • This also makes a great Christmas Day breakfast!
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    Hang a holly wreath. Not many non-Irish people know this, but the holly wreath tradition originated in Ireland. This tradition comes from the way the poor used to decorate their doors with holly, because it was so abundant around Christmas time.
    • Place a holly wreath on your front door to show you're celebrating Christmas.
    • Decorate your wreath with berries, if it doesn't have them already.
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    Take your decorations down on January 6th (Women's Christmas). This is when Christmas celebrations usually end.
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Article Info

Categories: Christmas Spirit