Christmas in Ireland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Christmas in Ireland is the largest celebration of the year[citation needed] although 8 December is traditionally viewed as the start of Christmas[citation needed] with many putting up their decorations and Christmas trees. Irish Christmas traditions are similar to those in most Western countries.[citation needed]

The greeting for "Happy Christmas" in Irish is Nollaig Shona Duit (Irish pronunciation: [nˠɔlˠɡˠ hɔnˠə dˠɪtʲ]) (singular) or Nollaig Shona Daoibh [plural] (Irish pronunciation: [nˠɔlˠɡˠ hɔnˠə dˠiːv]). The literal translation of this is "Happy Christmas to you". If "Nollaig, Shona, Duit/Daoibh" was literally translated, word for word, into English, it would be "Christmas, happy, to you". The British English expression "Happy Christmas" is more common in Ireland than its American English equivalent of "Merry Christmas".

Relevance of religion to Christmas[edit]

Ireland is a predominantly Christian country and Christmas plays an important role in religious aspects of Irish life. There are large attendances at religious services for Christmas Day and Christmas Eve[citation needed], with Midnight Mass a popular choice for Roman Catholics. It is also a time for remembering the dead in Ireland with prayers being offered for deceased at Mass. It is traditional to decorate graves at Christmas with a wreath made of holly and ivy.[1]

In many homes in Ireland the traditional crib, along with the Christmas tree are part of a family's decorations. Family and friends also give each other gifts at Christmas. Some people light candles to signify symbolic hospitality for Mary and Joseph. The candle was a way of saying there was room for Jesus's parents in these homes, even if there was none in Bethlehem.[1]

Christmas spend[edit]

Grafton Street, one of Dublin's main shopping streets during the Christmas shopping season

Irish people spend more and more money each year on celebrating Christmas. In 2006, the total amount spent in Ireland to celebrate Christmas was €16 billion,[citation needed] which averages at approximately €4,000 for every single person in the country. From a survey it was found that 44% will have sufficient money in their monthly income to pay for Christmas. 23% are likely to dip into their savings, while almost half of those surveyed (45%) will have to borrow money to cope. The last 33% of all the people are unknown off their shopping spend. [2]

In recent years Christmas decorations have appeared in shops in late October side by side with Halloween decorations. In 2009, Christmas radio adverts began in the last week in August. The big traditional Christmas shopping day used to be December the 8th, when many schools would close for the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception and people from rural areas would head to the towns and cities to do their Christmas shopping. With the advent of online shopping and other popular shopping days such as Black Friday, the 8th is no longer a very busy shopping day.[3][4][5]

Christmas trees are erected by public authorities. The village of Slane had a Christmas tree inserted in 2008 for the first time that decade.[6]

Christmas trees officially go up on 8 December because according to Christian tradition the immaculate conception was on this date. Trees in towns and cities are erected in central locations every year along with lights.

Holiday period[edit]

Almost the entire workforce is finished by lunchtime on Christmas Eve or often a few days beforehand. Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day (Boxing Day in Northern Ireland) are public holidays and many people do not return to work until the next week day after New Year's Day. Many multinational companies and businesses close the day before Christmas Eve and re-open the day after New Year's Day. Shop and public service workers usually return to work the day after St. Stephen's Day and sometimes on St. Stephen's Day if the Christmas sales have started.

Christmas over the media[edit]

Weekly Newspapers moved[edit]

During Christmas many weekly or local newspapers are moved and when Christmas Day is falling on Sunday, Sunday Newspapers are moved to Saturday or Christmas Eve.

The Late Late Toy Show[edit]

The Late Late Toy Show is an annual edition of The Late Late Show aired on RTÉ One usually on the last Friday of November and is dedicated to the showcasing of that year's most popular toys. It is regularly the most watched television programme of the year by Irish audiences,[7][8][9][10][11] and is broadcast live, meaning anything can and has happened.[12][13][14] The show, which consists of an adult-only studio audience[15] dressed in traditional Christmas attire, does not accept advertisements which promote toys for its commercial breaks but, whilst new gadget-type toys regularly break down during the live show, being featured on the programme itself has been said to have a major boost to sales of a product over the following number of weeks in the build-up to the Christmas period.[16] The attire of the presenter, namely a jumper, is also subject to speculation in the media beforehand and afterhand.[17][18][19] Advertising in 2009 cost €17,000 for each 30-second slot—this compares to €9,750 for the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final.[20]


Joe Duffy's walk around Grafton Street, Dublin is an annual tradition broadcast by RTÉ Radio 1 on Christmas Eve.[21]

RTÉ 2fm disc jockey Dave Fanning counts down his "Fanning's Fab 50 Christmas Trance Tunes" listeners music poll on air each year before Christmas, with U2, Touché Amoré and Alexisonfire proving most popular on a regular basis.[22]

From 2008, Christmas FM broadcast Christmas songs non-stop until 26 December.[23][24]

On FM104, Santa visits the FM104 PhoneShow on their last broadcast before they go on their holidays (usually the 23rd or 22nd).

Christmas music[edit]

"Fairytale of New York" was voted the song most drivers wanted to listen to in the Republic of Ireland in 2009, with "Happy Xmas" topping a similar poll cast in Northern Ireland.[25] The Christmas music of British singer Cliff Richard is most popular with those over the age of 55.[25]

The Irish number one single for Christmas is announced on Christmas Eve every year.

Santa Claus[edit]

Santa Claus, Daidí na Nollag (lit. Daddy December) in Irish and traditionally "Father of Christmas" in Irish English, is known in Ireland and Northern Ireland as Santy or Santa. He brings presents to children in Ireland, which are opened on Christmas morning. It is traditional to leave a mince pie and a bottle or a glass of Guinness along with a carrot for Rudolph, although in recent years Guinness has been replaced with milk and mince pies with cookies due to Americanisation. Most big shopping centres and malls have a Santa's grotto setup from late November so that shoppers and visitors with kids can visit Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas.

Christmas Candle[edit]

The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas Eve is still practised. This is also called The Wanderers Candle is placed at the window to welcome people in need of shelter. Its primary purpose is to welcome Mary and Joseph.

Christmas swim[edit]

It is traditional to swim in the sea on Christmas morning.[26] This is often done in aid of charity.[27] The 40 Foot in Sandycove in Dublin is a traditional venue for this where hundreds brave the cold temperatures and jump into the sea.

Christmas dinner[edit]

Christmas pudding, a traditional dessert on Christmas Day in Ireland

The traditional Christmas dinner consists of turkey or goose and ham with a selection of vegetables and roast potatoes. They also have round cake full of caraway seeds. In Cork and some surrounding areas, Spiced beef is traditionally eaten as part of the Christmas dinner. Dessert is very rich with a selection of Christmas pudding (sometimes served with brandy being set alight and poured over it), Christmas cake, sherry trifle, yule log and mince pies with equally rich sauces such as brandy butter.

On Christmas Eve fish is traditionally eaten as a form of fasting before Christmas.

Thousands of tins of biscuits, which are bought in advance, may then be opened and eaten. Of the traditional biscuit selections available ahead of the festive season, the Afternoon Tea variety outsells the others.[28]

Little Christmas[edit]

Christmas celebrations in Ireland are finished on the 6th of January, variously known as Women's Christmas (Nollaig na mBan), Little Christmas or Epiphany, with people taking down their Christmas decorations.


Popular television adverts down through the years were An Post with "Walking in the Air", Jacob's with "Jingle Bells", Dunnes Stores, Guinness and the RTE Guide.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Christmas in Dublin". Christmas in Dublin. Archived from the original on 10 August 2003. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  2. ^ Brennan, Cianan. "The average Irish person will spend almost €600 this Christmas". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Christmas in Ireland". Christmas guide to Ireland. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Busiest shopping day 'now like any other'". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  5. ^ "December 8th no longer sacred for festive shopping". Irish Independent. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Slane to get tree". Drogheda Independent. 3 December 2008. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  7. ^ "Toy Show was top of the box with 2005 viewers". Irish Independent. 5 January 2006. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  8. ^ "RTE seeks new deal for Late Late Show". The Sunday Business Post. 18 May 2008. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2008.
  9. ^ "'Late Late Toy Show' tops annual ratings". 3 December 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2008.
  10. ^ Cunningham, Grainne (2 December 2008). "Pat's 'Toy Show' attracts record 1.2 million viewers". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  11. ^ "Magical Figures for Ryan's first Late Late Toy Show". RTÉ Press Centre. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2009.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Lorna Nolan; Fiona Dillon (28 November 2009). "Toy boys sh** shocker—Twin lets slip as trousers rip live on Late Late". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  13. ^ Hogan, Louise (2 November 2007). "Children's world is pink and blue, says survey". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  14. ^ "Gaybo bullied me in chair row: Siubhan". Irish Independent. 27 February 1998. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  15. ^ O'Brien, Jason (28 November 2006). "Toy Show is just child's play for Pat". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  16. ^ "Media & Marketing: New rules for fast food ads leave sour taste in producers' mouths". Irish Independent. 30 December 2006. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  17. ^ Hanafin, Will (14 December 2006). "Party through the pain". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2008.
  18. ^ Claire Murphy (23 November 2009). "Toy show jumper dilemma for Ryan". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
  19. ^ Pat Stacey (28 November 2009). "Toy Show's got its mojo back, thanks to Tubridy". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  20. ^ "Toy Show ad cost unchanged at €17,000". The Sunday Business Post. 22 November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.[dead link]
  21. ^ "Joe Duffy's Christmas Eve on Grafton Street". RTÉ. 24 December 2009. Archived from the original on 18 January 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
  22. ^ "U2 hit is still the One to top Dave's Fab 50". Evening Herald. 22 December 2009. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  23. ^ "Christmas FM to air holiday tunes for Dublin". Hot Press. 3 December 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  24. ^ "Christmas FM to be launched by Shakin' Stevens". Evening Herald. 21 November 2008. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  25. ^ a b Peter Woodman (21 December 2009). "Fairytale of New York tops list of drivers' Christmas songs". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  26. ^ "Christmas swim". Gorey Guardian. 16 December 2009. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  27. ^ "Christmas swim". The Sligo Champion. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  28. ^ Morahan, George (24 November 2019). "1m Jacob's biscuits, 839,682 bags of Tayto: the brands we're buying this Christmas". Retrieved 24 November 2019. Ireland's largest wholesaler forecasts sales of 20,000 tins of Jacob's biscuits, including a million individual biscuits, with Afternoon Tea Tin (351,658 biscuits), Chocolate Kimberleys (133,200) and USA biscuits (227,000) the most popular.