As well as the common internationally celebrated holidays such as New Years and Christmas, Ireland has a few special holidays of its own. Some of them stem from the Catholic tradition, while some were implemented to keep up with the rest of Europe and commemorate the working people. Holidays in Ireland provide time to remember, time to celebrate and time to relax.
The Feast of St. Brigid - February 1st: This coincides with the beginning of Celtic spring in Ireland. St. Brigid is known as Ireland’s foremost female saint, as well as Mary of the Gaels. As patron saint of cattle and dairy, many farmers asks for her blessing on February 1st. Tradition shows that many Irish bake oatcakes to welcome St. Brigid on her feast day.
St. Patrick's Day - March 17th: After all, St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. What better way to celebrate Ireland’s favorite saint than to take a day off work and indulge in a little revelry? St. Patrick’s Day was first introduced as an official holiday in Ireland in 1903 under the Bank (Holiday) Act of 1903 which was initiated by Irish MP James O’Hara in UK Parliament.
Easter Weekend: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday are, of course, the highest of holy days in the Catholic religion. Easter Monday extends the weekend, and all schools remained closed for the week. Without a doubt, this is a busy time for travel in Ireland. Good Friday is not technically a public holiday, but all state schools and most businesses close. The sale of alcohol is also illegal in Ireland on Good Friday.
Labor Day - the first Monday in May: This is a public holiday to commemorate the working people of Ireland. This holiday was penciled in in 1993 and first observed in 1994. Take some time to travel and relax with family and friends.
Bank Holidays - the first Mondays of June and August and the last Monday of October: These are public holidays from work. Take a load off!
All Saint's Day - November 1st: The day following Halloween is recognized by the Catholic church as a holy day of obligation, and celebrates the lives of the saints in heaven. Practicing Catholics are called to attend Mass on this day.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - December 8th: This Catholic holiday recognizes the conception of the Virgin Mary, who was born without stain or original sin. Most Catholic primary schools in the country close in observance.
Christmas -December 25th: Celebrated around the world, Christmas Day is the most solemn of all holidays in Ireland. This day honors the birth of Christ in the Catholic religion. Observance includes festive decorations of lights and trees, attending Mass and family gatherings and meals. And, of course, a visit from Santa Claus is in order for the well-behaved children!
St. Stephen's Day, December 26th: This day is to celebrate the first Christian martyr St. Stephen, who was stoned to death shortly after the Crucifixion. However, the Irish celebrations on this day have little to do with the Saint himself. Historically, this day was also about “Going on the Wren” or “Hunting the Wren” as ancient Celtic mythology remembers the days following Christmas as when the robin, representative of the new year, killed the wren, representative of the old year. The picture here shows a 1950 celebration of the hunting of the wren.
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