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Christmas in Ireland, what to expect…

Christmas is a special time in Ireland, even more so than in Brasil. With the seasonal weather Ireland encounters it tends to be an event which entails staying at home with family, sitting by the fire, eating plenty of food and playing games or watching television. It’s by far the biggest celebration of the year. Almost all business close during this time and it’s very rare to even see any shop open other than a very rare petrol station attached grocers. Even public transport custs to a halt on Christmas day, along with pubs and supermarkets. 

Christmas Traditions in Ireland

There are many typical traditions practised in Ireland. Not unique to Ireland it’s common for most families to visit friends and loved ones, to go Christmas tree shopping with family, to decorate the house and to enjoy fine food and play board games, along with listening to Christmas songs and watching re-runs of Home Alone 2, Elf and other seasonal movies. 

The Commercialisation of Christmas in Ireland

Just as with other nations the celebration of Christmas has become more commercialized throughout the years. Don’t be surprised to see various Christmas items and decorations available in supermarket shelves during the autumn months, and particurally after Halloween (another big event in itself). Christmas is a huge time for retailers and by far the most important time of the year to prepare for. It’s also a great opportunity to obtain seasonal work, with the shops usually packed and many temporary job advertisements for assistance to help serve customers. 

Gifts at Christmas

Irish families spend more on Christmas gifts for family and friends than any other European nation, with the business group Retail Group Ireland stating that Irish households on average spend over €2,600 during the holidays. While this may seem as a huge sum of money that also includes spending on items such as decorations such as a Christmas tree (essential for any Irish home!), the Christmas meal and other related items other than just gifts for family and friends. 

The sacred Christmas meal

Unlike in Brazil the big family meal is usually served on Christmas day. The meal typically comprises of a Turkey with roasted vegetables such as parsnips, potatoe, brussel sprouts, carrots and more. The meal tends to follow on from a starter of soup, salad or prawns and is preceded by an array of desserts to choose from such as Christmas cake, cheesecake or other sweet treats. It’s considered a huge feast and can take days to prepare for some families. Leftovers can also go well into the days following Christmas. 

Religion & Mass at Christmas

Christmas is a religious event, and with Ireland being a Catholic nation it’s also a special time for people of faith. Along with regular season services in the build up to Christmas most churches perform a ‘midnight’ mass on Christmas Eve, the 24th, with a number of services following on Christmas morning. Despite Christmas mass having a much higher attendance compared to regular Sunday church services an increasing number of Irish people decide against attending mass,even on Christmas day. 

If you get an opportunity to enjoy Christmas with an Irish family embrace it, it’s an unforgettable experience and one you are sure to enjoy.

Author: Thiago

I moved to Ireland 2012. I work as a business administrator and travel a lot to Europe with my work. I enjoy writing and athletics during my vacation and try to visit friends and family every year in Brazil.
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