8 things you may not know about Christmas in Ireland

The unique Christmas spirit in Ireland is irresistible. Even the Grinch himself would be charmed by a Christmas in Ireland. To prove it, here are 8 things you’ll need to know about celebrating Christmas on the island of Ireland

Number 1: The early bird…

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

Number 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.

Number 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 longest sung Christmas carols, The Wexford Carol, is believed to have originated in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, hence its name. It dates back to the 12th century and tells the tale of the Nativity.

Number 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 roughy 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!

Number 5: Mistletoe’s not just for kissing

Before being used to steal kisses, the ancient Celts believed that mistletoe possessed 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).

Think a friend might enjoy this article? Click to save and share

Number 6: Festively freeeeeezing

Head to the Forty Foot, Sandycove, County Dublin, 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.

Number 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 Boxing Day, while in those in 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.

Number 8: Women’s rest

Often referred to as Women’s (or Little) Christmas, January 6 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.

Save this page to a Scrapbook:


Save this page to your Scrapbook:

Add Add

You have Scrapbooks created. Click below to see all of your saved pages.

See Scrapbooks

Create a new Scrapbook:

Cancel Create

This page has been save to your Scrapbook


Hmm, don't know that email. Can you check it and try again? Note: Please fill in your email address manually instead of copy/pasting it.

Getting here

Excited your interest? There are airports throughout the Island with international arrivals. Discover airlines flying to Ireland from your location.

Find flights

Places to stay

No results match your search criteria