Christmas is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm all over Ireland. The celebration starts from the Christmas Eve and goes on till the Epiphany Feast, which is held on 6th January. Epiphany is observed as the "Little Christmas" in Ireland. On the Christmas Eve, all the extended members of the Roman Catholic families living in Ireland assemble together for the Midnight Mass. People place lighted candles on their windows, in order to symbolize the hospitality of Mary and Joseph. They usually light red colored candles and take care to decorate them using sprigs of holly. There are several other traditions associated with the celebration of Christmas in Ireland, have provided in detail below.
Christmas Celebrations In Ireland
On Christmas Eve, Irish people keep the door of their house open. They believe that by doing so, they are inviting parents of Lord Jesus to their home. They also keep bread and milk for them. During Christmas, Irish people wish each other by saying "Nollaig Shona Dhuit", which means "Merry Christmas". Till today, in many parts of rural Ireland, people follow the tradition of whitewashing their outhouses and stores. This custom is associated with the custom followed long before Christianity. In 4000 BC, the ancient Mesopotamians used to clean their homes and sweep the streets, in order to assist God in His battle against the powers of chaos.
As per the Central European lore, Deity Frigg checks the threshold of each home on Christmas, to ascertain that it is clean. It is believed that from this custom came the custom of putting fresh curtains, cushions and special Christmas bedcover and even the whitewashing of house during Christmas. Decorations are another integral part of the Christmas celebration. People decorate their mantelpieces with flowers like holly and several decorative ornaments. Like some other parts of the world, they hang the mistletoe in a doorway and kiss under it. They decorate the Christmas tree using all the ornaments, lightings, ribbons and the glittering stars.
In Ireland, Christmas is the occasion for the family members to get together and enjoy a grand feast. Irish families prepare special Christmas cake for the festival. The main dishes of the Christmas dinner in Ireland are turkey, ham and cranberry sauce. They also prepare spiced beef, mince pies and have with brandy and rum sauce. Puddings and mince pies also form a part of the feast. In fact, puddings are made for Christmas, New Year as well as for the Twelfth Night. Irish women also prepare a seed cake for every member of the family. People exchange gifts on this auspicious occasion and the entire atmosphere is charged with festivity.