Christmas traditions around the world differ, however, the values that people celebrate during the holidays remain true everywhere: Family, faith, and spreading cheer. Centered around these ideals, Irish Christmas traditions are no exception. Whether it be gathering as a community to sing carols or decorating a Christmas tree with the family, every Irish holiday tradition is meant to bring light and love into the lives of others.
Christmas markets are one of the most well-known aspects of the Irish holiday season. With some of the largest and most notable happening in Galway, Dublin, and Belfast, every Christmas Market in Ireland is packed with cheer and community. A staple at most Christmas markets is taking a ride in Santa’s sleigh. The ambiance is always welcoming and cozy at an Irish Christmas market. Picture warm fairy lights, caroling, and great food. These markets are known for gift giving, mulled wine, and live music and dancing. The Irish Christmas market is the epitome of merry and bright.
The Wren Boy Procession
During the Wren Boy Procession, Christmas Carolers parade from house to house singing and raising money for charity. In Ireland, the wren is considered “King of all birds.” In Irish mythology, the life of the wren is linked to the life of Jesus. Wren day normally begins with a group hunting a fake wren and mounting it on a pole. This is followed by the town celebrating the life of the wren through song and dance. Those who participate are referred to as Wren Boys. Each year, the Wren Boys dress in old clothing, which they layer under a straw outer layer. The participants march around the town spreading cheer through carols and camaraderie.
The Feast of the Epiphany
The Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day is often celebrated after the Twelve Days of Christmas on January sixth. The Feast is used to honor the day that the Three Kings followed the Christmas star to baby Jesus. These kings were said to have brought Jesus many precious and meaningful gifts. The Feast of the Epiphany is an ancient Christian tradition. This tradition is often used to signify the end of the Christmas holiday and bring everyone together once more to commemorate the story of Jesus and the three kings.
Meeting Santa Clause
Santa is said to reside in the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland. This is said to be where Santa rests in-between Christmases to recuperate. Today, families can visit him at his cottage and enjoy plenty of attractions. Children are able to meet Santa and even pose for a photo with him and his elves in Santa’s sleigh. Families can follow a trail to see Santa’s full herd of reindeer and even hear a ranger speak on the history of the park. The attraction then continues in a town located outside of the Mourne Mountains called Downpatrick. Here, families can see the spirits of Christmas’s past, present, and future overrun the iconic St. Patrick’s square.
The Twelve Pubs
An adult spin on the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Twelve Pubs is a drinking game used to celebrate the year as it comes to an end. While it is not necessary to abide by set rules during your pub crawl, most parties do in order to keep the night interesting. Oftentimes when participating in the Twelve Pubs, participants must wear a Christmas sweater or dress as Santa and his elves. Some of the more comical rules include pub crawl, left-handed, and no names. Pub crawl instructs a participant to deliver a round of drinks to the group on their hands and knees. Left-handed forces participants to drink an entire pint with their left hand. Lastly, the no-names rule dictates that no participant can be referred to by their name in that pub.