Christmas in Ireland

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

The greeting for ‘Happy Christmas’ in Irish is Nollaig Shona Duit or Nollaig Shona Daoibh (plural), the literal translation of this is ‘Happy Christmas to you’. If ‘Nollaig, Shona, Duit/Daoibh’ was literally translated, word for word, into English, it would be “Christmas, happy, to you”.

Christmas is also a time for remembering the dead in Ireland with prayers being offered for deceased at Masses. It is traditional to decorate graves at Christmas with a wreath made of holly and ivy.

In most homes in Ireland the traditional crib, along with the Christmas tree are part of a family’s decorations. Family and friends also give each other gifts at Christmas. The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas eve is still practised today. It has a number of purposes but primarily it was a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they travelled looking…

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