Christmas traditions in Ireland
The festive season of the year arrives and of course there are some traditions that you mostly only see in Ireland. Indeed, Christmas is celebrated with similarities in a lot of countries, but every family has their own traditions and customs.
In this post you will find some interesting Irish Traditions which you can surely see during your stay in Dublin, if you’re staying during this festive season, or maybe even take part in some of them!
You can already see them in the whole city. Houses, Shopping Centers, Streets and display windows showing us some beautiful light installations, huge Christmas trees, life-size snowmen, cribs and more. The traditionally go up on the 8th December, but you’re able to see them already in the middle of November. A lot of houses are going to have a holly wreath on their front door and some won´t be stingy about huge light installations and Santa Claus dummies on their roofs. It’s also common to have a natural Christmas tree with lights and trinkets in the house and a small crib.
The Christmas Swim
This is performed on the morning of Christmas Day. Some brave men and women just in swimwear are going for a swim in the Irish sea which is usually about 10 Degrees cold and that is even warmer than the temperature outside. So it´s really a freezing experience! The Swim is regarded as a good way to get rid of a Hangover, but most of the guys will have a sponsorship, so they raise money for charity by doing this. If you’re brave enough to try it yourself or just want to watch, the most famous spot is the “Forty Foot” in Sandycove, only 40 minutes away with the DART from Connolly Station.
The candle in the window
The candle in the window is an Irish tradition on Christmas Day. People will put a candlelight in their windows to welcome Joseph and Mary, because they have searched for accommodation right before Jesus was born. Moreover, it´s a symbol for hospitality for everyone that walks by. The origin is in the 17th Century when it was forbidden for Catholic priests to hold masses and the candlelight symbolized that in this house they were able to hold one on Christmas Day. It´s a beautiful view when a lot of windows have a candlelight shining on Christmas Day.
The Wren Boys
If you don´t know this tradition, you will maybe be a bit puzzled on St. Stephens Day (26th December) when you see the Wren Boys. They are going to be dressed ab in straw suits and hunt a fake wren (kind of bird) to put it up a pole and walk through the city. Sound weird, doesn’t it? But their is a tradition behind it. The Legend says the wren betrayed St Stephen by drawing attention to his hiding spot with his singing. So St Stephen got caught and was stoned to death. So this is kind of a revenge, but there are loads of stories concerning the origin of this tradition. Therefore now the people walk through the city singing and beating drums and nowadays they´re raising money for charity by doing this. It’s definitely fun to watch and if you like it you can donate something for charity!
Little Christmas is the 6th January and is also known as “Women’s Christmas”, because the men will do all the chores, so that the women can take a rest after the busy Christmas days. There are a lot of events only for women and it marks the end of the Christmas season. Thus all the Christmas decorations are going to be taken down, but mind yourself, it´s regarded to bring very bad luck if you remove yours before the 6th.