Posted by TheYank at 12/4/2009 10:04 AM EST

Christmas is really kicking in now. Christmas FM opened for business again the other day. You can listen in no matter where you are and it's quite an education as you soon realize that the number of truly awful Christmas songs or horrific renditions of Christmas favorites is far closer to infinity than you would ever imagine. Christmas FM is a new tradition and it's all done with a light heart and for charity, so much (but not all) is forgiven.

One of my favorite older Irish Christmas customs is the 'There's nothing on over the Christmas' tradition. 'There's nothing on over the Christmas' refers to the television and the paucity of good programming for the two weeks surrounding the big day. Today's Irish Independent got the ball rolling declaring RTE's Christmas schedule to be a "turkey."

But it won't just be cynical newspaper columnists who'll be pronouncing the Christmas television offerings as not up to scratch. Just about anyone and everyone will let you know that 'There's nothing on over the Christmas.'

At some point in Ireland's mythical past - a mythical past with a lot to answer for - Christmas was a time of two weeks of unbroken, spectacular televisual entertainment. This can be discerned easily as you'll often hear people add "this year" to "There's nothing on over the Christmas." The "this year" implies that there must have been some Christmas programming worth watching at one time, probably during the golden age of the Celts when Brian Boruruled the land.

Regardless, the Christmas edition of the RTE Guide will sell in large numbers as people can't wait to see what's going to disappoint them this year. Many will even plump for the BBC's version (weirdly) known as the Radio Times, even though the RTE Guide provides the listings for all of the British channels too.

It took me a while to get used to just how important t.v. is in Ireland at Christmas time. All the Christmas specials are shown right around Christmas day, which is the opposite of how it works in America. In America, by the time Christmas Day arrives there's absolutely nothing worth watching unless you like the NBA or college football. When I first arrived here I was hard-wired to anticipate seeing Charlie Brown & The Grinch closer to Thanksgiving than Christmas. Here those shows are on right near - even after - Christmas Day. Bizarre, I know.

In addition to all the Christmas specials, the Irish t.v. schedules will be full of blockbuster Hollywood movies (not as good a selection as in previous years, of course) some embarrassingly bad Irish made programming, and depressing, holiday-themed episodes of over exposed (mostly British) soap operas.

Truth be told, I hate - HATE - those soap operas and would much prefer to watch Brian Boru hunt down, capture and gut a live reindeer on t.v. as I licked my fingers clean of my Christmas dinner. Maybe everyone else here feels the same, which would explain the annual disappointment.