It’s said that airports see more sincere embraces than wedding halls. This was certainly true on Thursday morning at Dublin Airport, as an influx of Irish expats returned home to Ireland for Christmas. The travelers arrived into a crisp Irish morning from overseas destinations including Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Glasgow, and England.

First, families waited with bated breaths, handmade signs and balloons, looking hopefully at the doors for their loved ones to appear. Then, a school choir welcomed the jittery homecomers with Christmas jingles like Let it Snow, as family and friends reunited once again with tearful embraces, running hugs, and joyous laughter.

One family patiently waited with a sign adorned with fairy lights, reading “Welcome Ollie, to Ireland” - there wasn’t a dry eye at the arrivals gate when we realized Ollie was just an infant, born in America, visiting his motherland to meet his grandparents and cousins for the very first time.

Instead of tired faces, the airport beamed with the cheerful energy of Christmas. Santa statues sat happily on benches, trees and fairy lights crowded every corner, and a tall sign reading “Failte Abhaile,” meaning “welcome home” in Irish, stood tall at the exit, with an arrow pointing toward “Home: 0 km.” Above the arrivals door, a massive, painted ribbon hung on the wall, with a tag reading: “The best Christmas present ever is about to walk through these doors.” Many of the homecomers did in fact appear in santa hats, Christmas sweaters and reindeer headbands.

As jingles rang in the air, the faraway overseas adventures of the expats seemed to fade away as everyone relished together in the rich, Irish Christmas spirit: and that’s only the airport.

IrishCentral visited Dublin Airport to experience the emotional homecoming of Irish expats for Christmas.Kayla Hertz