Christmas starts way too early here in Ireland nowadays - Halloween is hardly over when Santa Claus shows up

Christmas comes too early these days

Christmas seems to be here for the best part of 3 months these days. The children are no sooner back to school and you can see some supermarkets bringing merchandise into the back of the stores and being piled up high, then bit by bit and all of a sudden it’s like Christmas got sick all over us.

Before anyone asks I love Christmas, but by the time Christmas days comes the whole thing has worn off me and this is sad. Christmas day is supposed to be the climax of the whole festival, don’t you think!

We are getting more like America here in the last decade when it comes to Halloween with all the houses being done up like a scene from Michael Jackson's 'Thriller.' I don’t think we have mastered the act of trick or treating though! That said people want Halloween out of the way so they can have a straight run at Christmas, when the goblins are gone the ghosts of Christmas past are in the door.

So we have Christmas full on for two full months uninterrupted, we don’t even bother with Thanksgiving, all our focus in on the 25th of December.

It’s like we are all waiting for the Coke TV ads with the big white polar bears to come on for the Craic (not the drugs) to start.

There is some kind of unwritten rule about playing Christmas songs on the radio here which I think is a good idea and that’s that they don’t play any before December 1st. Larry Gogan from RTÉ 2fm kicks it off, Larry being probably the oldest and liked national DJ’s we have. I first thought he played the first Christmas song every year but I think this has changed because I heard another station playing songs before him.

The first Christmas song of the year is usually ‘The Fairy Tale of New York’ which has to be the best Christmas song ever written. The first notes played on the piano played by Shane Mc Gowan are special to many especially us Irish! I believe it’s an anthem in all the Irish bars throughout the world.

There is another debate and that is when the Christmas tree should go up. When we were young it was always on the 8th of December, my nieces didn’t believe me when I told them. They thought it was way too late.

I remember people who lived near me at home in Kerry when I was young and they would erect the tree Christmas Eve! Mad I know and way way too late (according to the same nieces)! The day after small Christmas or Nollaig na mBan or women’s Christmas as it’s called is the day to take down all of the Christmas stuff. There is no uncertainty about this date. Nollaig na mBan is a big thing in West Kerry, it’s the night when the ladies hit the town and take a night off after all their hard work during the festive season.

I was amazed that on the day after Christmas day, on Stephen’s Day people in the States go back to work. In Ireland this is even better than the day before. St Stephen’s days is also called the Wren’s day. This was our money day growing up.

To set the scene for people who’ve never heard of this, you dress up in all weird and old clothes usually with a false face as a disguise. The plan for the day was to go around to all the houses in the parish and play music at the door until the people came out and gave you money, to play the piper if you want! My partner in crime in those days was Ciarán Tomasín, we (i) had two tunes on the tin whistle and played them at every door. We were well sick of the tunes by 6 o clock that even!

On a good Wren’s day we would have £40 between us and that money would often last until St. Patrick ’s Day! It didn’t last the first of the day when we started to take a drink. These days anyone going in the Wren would make a lot more. Groups usually go out for charity too and this can be great fun, except for the designated driver whose charity was driving a shower of loons around for a better cause!

Anyways here I am talking about Christmas in the first week in December and we have a long way to go yet. The only advice I have is to pace yourself and don’t get caught up in the whole thing before it starts properly. From me Nollaig Shona- Merry Christmas!

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