How Is It Like To Celebrate The Christmas Season With Irish People?
by Justin Lisburn
Christmas Eve normally starts on December 24 and in Ireland, it continues till January 6, the date which is called the Epiphany or if you like, "Little Christmas." The Irish are a very religious people and to them Christmas is not just a festival but it carries some heavy religious connotation too.
Intense preparations like Christmas tree decorations, which need some tinsel, stars and shinny ornaments to be hung on trees; become necessary. It may include some holies and mantel pieces that are used to decorate the fireplaces in almost all the homes.
Each doorway must have mistletoe hanging on it for the sake of kissing under it during Christmas. It is customary to put colorful candles, preferably red, plus electric lights on the windowsills. These in turn must be complemented with some hollies to make the Christmas mood real. The logical thing is to put all these in place for the holy couple Mary and Joseph to see the way home.
Christmas means a lot in terms of the right foods being prepared since every home in Ireland should have a proper festivity meal usually made up of turkey, goose, spiced beef, ham and vegetables without excluding roast Irish potatoes. You would expect the desert to be composed of the wonderfully baked Christmas cakes, some puddings, mince pies and more delicious sweets.
There is open door welcome for Mary and Joseph on the Christmas Eve. A host of activities must go hand in hand, like the Roman Catholic's Midnight Mass; which is a must-attend in Ireland since the whole region is made up of the adherents of this religion.
The season is marked with generosity and is always the best for exchanging great gifts. Children leave sacks under their beds for Santa Claus to put the gifts consisting of tiny toys, chocolate treats in a calendar-like contraption. Each of the pockets marked with every day of December; the Advent Calendar as it is called.
The St Stephen Day is marked on December 26 which comes immediately after Christmas and is when the football matches abound in Ireland, plus other meetings. Excited children in bright clothes go from home to home for treats as they sing traditional songs and with a fake wren held on a stick to celebrate Wren Boys Procession, wear straw masks.
The Christmas decorations are never removed until after the end of January 6, the Epiphany, or Little Christmas.