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5 strange traditions from Ireland

customs ireland

Ireland is known for its many sayings and traditions that have traveled the world, such as the many associated with St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. Some of them, however, look a little funny in the eyes of a foreigner.

Check out some of Ireland’s strangest traditions:

Thank the bus driver

This may not be so strange for Brazilians, but a Dublin Bus survey in 2015 showed that 90% of passengers say “thank you” to the driver before they get off the bus, and there are many foreigners who find this strange.

Greet the crows

The education of the Irish goes beyond the bus drivers, since many of them usually say “good morning” to the handles (a kind of crow), believing it to be a way to avoid bad luck. Another superstition related to this type of bird says that the number of crows you see can reveal several things, such as good luck, bad luck and even the sex of a baby.

Money hidden in food

One of the many Halloween traditions in Ireland is to hide money inside food. Barmbrack, for example, is a bread prepared with raisins and with several small objects inside it, such as coins and rings. Each item carries a meaning for the person who finds it. Whoever finds the ring will marry that year; whoever finds the coin will win a fortune and prosper; whoever finds the toothpick will be unhappy and will have many fights. Even today it is possible to find breads like this sold in supermarkets that come with a ring inside.

Another dish that is served with coins on Halloween is colcannon, a kind of mashed potatoes with cabbage leaves.

Drink rounds

When in a group at a bar or pub, Irish people drink in rounds, which means that each person pays everyone else’s drinks, in a sequence. Refusing a drink can be offensive in some cases, and drinking on others’ bills without paying for a round is pretty ugly.


As in Brazil, funerals are very common in Ireland, and refer to the time of the Celts, when it was common to watch the deceased from the time of his death until the time of burial. The tradition has its origins in ancient Judaism, when it was common to leave a dead person for up to three days “resting” before burial, to make sure that the dead person would not be resurrected. Another legend says that the wake in Ireland started after a wave of poisonings, which left the person in a state of near death, before returning to normal after a few hours.

The funerals are similar to those in Brazil: they usually take place in funeral homes (or in the family’s home, in some cases), and receive all kinds of people to say their last goodbyes. Many foreigners find it strange that acquaintances, and not close people, attend the funerals, but this also happens in Brazil.

Author: Pedro

I work with digital marketing and lived in Europe for two years. I like to write about travel, business and entertainment, as well as sharing tips and advice for Brazilians living abroad.
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