Yes, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is always special but if you feel like doing something a little different this year, why not include some Irish Christmas traditions in your festive preparations. Many of these Christmas traditions have their origins in the ancient Gaelic and religious history of Ireland.
Burning a Candle in the Window
The tradition of burning a candle in the largest window of the home harks back to the times when Catholics were persecuted; the candle served as a secret signal that the occupier of the house was Catholic and that the religious mass could be performed in the home. Later, the candle was reported to represent a welcome signal for all those seeking food and lodging for the night, in much the same way as Joseph and Mary were offered the manger when they needed someplace to stay.
Traditionally, the name Mary has been one of the most common names in Ireland, after the mother of Jesus; much revered by Catholics, especially at Christmas time. Ireland has various traditions related to the name Mary, such as the candle in the window, which should always be lit and extinguished by a girl called Mary. It was also considered lucky to receive a visit from a woman named Mary in January when Christmas decorations were taken down.
Laden Christmas Table
Christmas dinner is one of the most important events in the festive calendar in Ireland. This was traditionally served on the large kitchen table, and after the family had partaken of the feast the table was cleaned and offerings of bread and milk were symbolically placed on the table, along with a candle, to represent hospitality for Joseph and Mary, or any travellers requiring sustenance.
Traditionally, in Ireland, it was considered to bring bad luck if Christmas decorations were removed and put away before 6th January – know as ‘Little Christmas’.
Christmas Decorations – Irish Style
The Christmas tradition of hanging a holly wreath on the front door originated in Ireland. The plant was in plentiful supply during the season and even the poorest families could adorn their home with such a decoration. Holly was also believed to have magical healing powers and protect the inhabitants of a home from bad luck.
St. Stephen’s Day (December 26) is often the day on which sporting events such as football matches and horse racing events are held. It was also the day on which the famous Wren Procession took place, when children would dress up and parade through the streets.
Nowadays, you’re more likely to find youngsters playing Rainbow Riches online or other similar games during their free time.
So whatever you get up to this festive season, make sure you have the best Christmas ever – with those most important to you!