Though a number of Irish Christmas traditions overlap with other countries, there’s certainly a long list of ways Christmas becomes unique in the Emerald Isle and where those traditions come from.
Managing director of Murphy of Ireland Paul Murphy created a thorough infographic about what makes Christmas Irish, from stories behind old traditions to more modern holiday delights.
Explore the details within the Christmas home, church, kids, food, customs, sports, gifts and even the weather - like, have you heard the old Irish proverb, “a green Christmas makes a fat churchyard?” This could be where the romanticized ‘white Christmas’ comes from.
Do you know why 20,000 people flock to Dublin annually for the Leopardstown horse races? Do you know where the best-known ancient Wren procession still takes place? (Answer: Dingle, Co. Kerry). Murphy answers these with information from an IrishCentral’s Christmas traditions article as a guide.
What about the “Laden Table?” Murphy writes, “On Christmas Eve, after dinner, the kitchen table was set and a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, a pitcher of milk, and a large lit candle were placed on it. The door to the house was left unlocked so that Mary and Joseph, or a wandering traveler, could avail of the supper.”
This is also one of the reasons a lit candle is traditionally placed in the window on Christmas Eve, as a symbolic welcoming of Mary and Joseph, he wrote, with IrishCentral’s article as inspiration.
This is like the adult version of Irish children leaving out a carrot for Rudolph, and mince pie and a can of Guinness for Santa.
There’s even a “Women’s Christmas” on January 6 called the Feast of the Epiphany, where Irish men do all the household chores for the day while the ladies go out or stay in with friends and family and relax. Check out Murphy’s infographic: