The light of the Christmas star to you The warmth of home and hearth to you The cheer and good will of friends to you The hope of a childlike heart to you The joy of a thousand angels to you
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.
- An Irish Christmas Blessing -
Charming, beautiful, and green for most of the year, Ireland is aglow with golden light during the holidays. That's when households across the country place candles in their windows to symbolically help light the way for Mary and Joseph as they search for lodging in Bethlehem.
For weeks beforehand, a thorough house cleaning is also in order and, indeed, the custom of whitewashing farmhouses for Christmas is still observed In some rural areas.
With electric lights sparkling on a German-borrowed Christmas tree, holiday decorating is a blend of modern and ancient Irish Christmas traditions.
The olde, ancient ways are seen around doorways and mantels, which are usually bedecked in holly and ivy - a tradition that predates the Christian era, when Druidic tribes decorated their homes with evergreens during a dark and chilly winter.
Nollaig shona duit! - Happy Christmas!
On Christmas Eve, a bottle of Guinness and a mince pie are left for Santa, who will later steal in during the night to deliver gifts to deserving little girls and boys.
The following day, families gather for a festive Christmas meal of roast turkey, spiced beef, potatoes and vegetables along with the much-awaited Irish Christmas Cake, plum pudding and other sweets.
More about Christmas in Ireland around the Web:
An Irish Christmas - Ding, dong, merrily on high - Information on the tradition of Irish caroling with selected lyrics, and be sure to scroll down the page for more on Christmas dinner traditions, St. Stephen's Day, New Year's Day and Ephiphany observances.
Irish Recipes for Christmas - With complete instructions for homemade Irish Christmas Cake, Shamrock cookies, soda scones, plum pudding, roast goose and other favorites.