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My Ireland

Looking for inspiration? Planning a trip? Or just want to scroll yourself happy? We'll show you an Ireland that's tailor-made for you.

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    Belfast Christmas Market Belfast Christmas Market

    8 fun facts about Christmas in Ireland

    Here are some things you may not know about Christmas on the island of Ireland

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    The unique Christmas spirit in Ireland is irresistible. Even the Grinch himself would be charmed by a Christmas on the island. To prove it, here are eight fun facts about celebrating Christmas here.

    Samuel Beckett Bridge at Christmas, County Dublin Samuel Beckett Bridge at Christmas, County Dublin

    Samuel Beckett Bridge at Christmas, County Dublin

    1. The early bird…

    Christmas will never come soon enough. Come December 8th, Christmas officially begins in Ireland. The landscape starts to twinkle with festive lights, Christmas markets are buzzing, and friends and family come home from far afield to celebrate the season.

    Christmas at Mount Stewart Christmas at Mount Stewart

    Christmas at Mount Stewart, County Down

    2. Gets the tree…

    Did you know: the use of evergreen Christmas trees is a relatively new decoration in Ireland. Historically, holly and ivy were used to brighten up homes during the festive season. Superstitious? Apparently, the more berries on the holly bush, the better luck to come next year.

    Christmas at Guinness, Dublin Christmas at Guinness, Dublin

    Christmas at Guinness, Dublin

    3. These carols weren’t born yesterday, you know

    “Good people all, this Christmas time, Consider well and bear in mind…” What’s Christmas without carols and hymns? One of the oldest Christmas carols, The Wexford Carol, is believed to have originated in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, hence its name in Irish: Carúl Loch Garman. No one is quite sure when it was composed, but it tells the tale of the Nativity.

    Christmas in Killarney, County Kerry Christmas in Killarney, County Kerry

    Christmas in Killarney, County Kerry

    4. There’s more than one way to say “Happy Christmas”

     

    Fancy wishing someone Happy Christmas in Irish? “Nollaig Shona Duit” (NO-lihg HO-nuh ghwich) translates roughly as “Happy Christmas to you”. In Ulster Scots (or Ullans) the words are “Ablythe Yuletide”. Different words, same message – and all on the one island!

     

    Christmas in Galway city centre Christmas in Galway city centre

    Christmas in Galway city centre

    5. Mistletoe’s not just for kissing

    Before being used to steal kisses, mistletoe was believed by the ancient Celts to possess magnificent healing powers. It was even banned for some time as a symbol of paganism. Homes in Ireland now hang mistletoe in doorways to symbolise peace and goodwill (kisses sometimes welcome, of course).

    Swimming at Ballycuggeran, County Clare Swimming at Ballycuggeran, County Clare

    Swimming at Ballycuggeran, County Clare

    6. Festively freeeeeezing

    Head to the Forty Foot in Dublin’s Sandycove, or to Portstewart Strand in County Londonderry on Christmas morning, and you’ll spot hundreds of brave souls taking to the sea in the spirit of Christmas. The Christmas Day swim takes place all over Ireland’s coastline, with participants taking the chilly plunge, often for charity.

    Christmas Market, Belfast Christmas Market, Belfast

    Christmas Market, Belfast City Hall

    7. One day, two names

    In both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, 26 December is a celebrated public holiday. In Northern Ireland, though, the date is known as Boxing Day, while those in the Republic of Ireland refer to it as St Stephen’s Day. In the Republic, keep your eyes peeled for "Wren Boys" parading the streets in straw suits (particularly in Dingle, County Kerry) dancing and singing to raise money for charity.

    Grafton Street at Christmas, County Dublin Grafton Street at Christmas, County Dublin

    Grafton Street at Christmas, County Dublin

    8. Women's rest

    Often referred to as Women’s (or Little) Christmas, 6 January is officially the last day of Christmas. It’s also traditionally the day when women must avoid all housework, and the men of the house stay home, take down decorations (it’s bad luck if you don’t!) and prepare all the meals.