The Irish Christmas is sacred

An Irish Christmas is not just about about the glitz, glitter, and gifts.

For the Irish Christmas really is about celebrating the birth of their Savior.

Religious oppression is a funny thing. It only makes people hold tighter to their beliefs. It only makes them more passionate about their faith and the rituals celebrating it.

In Ireland, like everywhere, Christmas is a time of traditional food, symbolic decorations, and festive music. But it's all in honor of the birthday they are celebrating.

The Irish need no-one to remind them...they know in the deepest part of their souls that "Jesus is the reason for the season..."

How did the official day for celebrating Christmas in Ireland become December 25?

In modern Christian cultures, we mark Winter Solstice as December 21-22 and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25. But celebrating a supernatural birth on December 25 dates back to ancient pre-Christian times when the Celts celebrated Alban Arthuan, the Winter Solstice...the rebirth of the sun. December 25 was also the day the Romans celebrated the birth of the Sun God.

When Constantine legalized Christianity and declared it the official religion of the Roman Empire, he needed to find ways to help Roman society to make the transition to Christianity.

Since Romans were already accustomed to celebrating the birth of a god on December 25, and since no exact day is mentioned in the Bible that tells us exactly when Jesus was born, Constantine strategically converged the ancient celebration of the birth of the Sun God with the Christian celebration of Christ's birth and declared December 25 the day of Christ's birth.

Since Irish Celts had been celebrating December 25 for a long time as the rebirth of the Sun, Irish Christians found it natural to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25.

So the Irish added a new holiday greeting to their language, "Nollaig Shona Duit" (pronounced 'null-ig hun-a dit'), which means "Happy Christmas" in Gaelic.

How long does the Christmas season last in Ireland?

The Christmas season officially begins on December 8 in Ireland. A few days later, on December 12, some people in Ireland still carry on the old tradition of celebrating "Women's Christmas", or Nollaig na mBan in Gaelic.

Click here to read more about this and more Christmas traditions in Ireland.

Although many here in America believe the "12 days of Christmas" end with Christmas Day, they actually begin on December 25. In Ireland, Christmas is celebrated beyond December 25, though. Christmas Eve ends with a midnight Christmas Mass. Then Christmas Morning arrives with gifts from Santa and the big feast. The day after Christmas is celebrated too...St. Stephen's Day. And the Christmas season doesn't officially end until January 6, the day of the Epiphany. Also known as "Little Christmas" in Ireland.

Read more about the Christmas traditions associated with these festive days in Ireland.

For Irish Christmas folklore, look no further than the traditional Christmas carol, "The 12 Days of Christmas". Whether it's fact or fiction, the alleged "meaning" behind the gifts given in this song is a testament to the oppression of the Catholic faith for so many years of Ireland's history.

Irish Christmas Food, Decorations, Music, and Gifts

One of the great joys of Christmas is the abundance of food, the special things made only at this very special time of year. We all look forward to the big Christmas feast. An integral part of all Irish traditions is their food. But what is traditional Irish Christmas food? Click here to find out...

Some of the most popular Irish Christmas decorations are very symbolic, such as the glowing candle in the window, the mistletoe hanging in your doorway, and the abundance of Christmas holly.

Actually, the mistletoe and holly have been traditional Christmas decorations in Ireland even longer than the Irish have been celebrating Christmas. They were part of the ancient Celtic rituals celebrating the Winter Solstice.

Although it is rare these days to encounter Christmas carolers along the sidewalks in America, in Ireland it is commonplace throughout the holiday season. The wintry air is filled with heartfelt singing and festive music in all the traditional Irish sounds of harp, flute, fiddle, bodhran...

Find out the lyrics to a few traditional Irish Christmas carols.

Whether buying it as a gift for a dear Irish friend, or to fill your own home with Irish sounds of the season, allow me to recommend my favorite Celtic Christmas music.

The Irish enjoy gifts from all over the world marketplace just like everyone else. But if you'd like to give your Irish friends or loved ones unique gifts that pay tribute to their Celtic spirits, you need a few creative Irish Christmas gift ideas.

Finally, if you want to go all out, consider spending Christmas in Ireland this year. For those who love the sight of green in the fields (not to mention keeping more of the green in your wallet) in winter and those who would rather not fight the crowds, there is no better time of year to visit than Christmas. I'll share with you the best places to go in Ireland at Christmastime.

How do you have a traditional Irish Christmas in 21st century America?

Many of the most common decorations, songs, and customs you have enjoyed all your life originated in Ireland. But the symbols and rituals themselves do not make it an Irish Christmas.

Knowing the meaning behind them is what makes the difference. It is the knowledge and spirit we have in our hearts and minds that can make it an authentic Irish Christmas!

Nollaig Shona Duit!

Irish Christmas Articles on

  • Irish Christmas Traditions
    What is the difference between Irish Christmas traditions and American Christmas traditions? Our Irish ancestors brought many favorite Christmas customs, songs, and decorations to America. But the difference lies in the symbolism behind Irish Christmas traditions.
  • The 12 Days of Christmas Legend
    In Ireland the 12 Days of Christmas is more than just a Christmas carol. Many believe it was a way to teach the Catholic faith to children during the years that it was illegal to practice the Catholic faith.
  • An Irish Candle in the Window at Christmas
    The glowing candle in the window is a common Christmas decoration in most Irish homes. But it is more than a lovely Christmas decoration in Ireland. It symbolizes many things, but the oldest is the most important of all.
  • The Mythical Powers of Mistletoe
    Why do we kiss under the mistletoe? Mistletoe has long been ascribed with mystical powers in Ireland, far stronger than just a spark of romance after a brief kiss.
  • The Symbolism of Christmas Holly
    Christmas holly is one of the most popular Christmas decorations. But did you know that holly has been a religious symbol in Ireland for thousands of years?
  • Traditional Irish Christmas Food
    Irish Christmas food is one of the best parts of Christmas in Ireland. But what traditional Irish Christmas food is unique to the Emerald Isle?
  • Lyrics to 6 of Ireland's Traditional Christmas Carols
    Traditional Irish Christmas carols are often only heard as instrumentals. But so you can sing along, we have the lyrics to 6 of the most popular Irish Christmas carols...
  • My Celtic Christmas Music Collection: The Top 10
    Without the sounds of Celtic Christmas music, it would be hard for me to embrace the Christmas spirit. Since I started exchanging Celtic Christmas CDs with my husband every year, I feel like Scrooge without them. Start your own tradition with my Top 10.
  • Why you will love spending Christmas in Ireland
    If you spend Christmas in Ireland, you'll experience the spirit of the season everywhere you go. Ireland winters are actually fairly mild, and you'll be amazed at how much money you save by coming in the off-peak season.

My Irish Christmas resources

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