Christmas in Ireland

We all know what is Christmas and when it is happening, right?

Well, that’s not the case here in Ireland, or at least in Dublin. All the shops, buses, windows and streets are decorated since November 2nd, and all radio commercials advertise it with “Christmas has never been so early”. Yep, we are listening to all those Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas”, “Jingle Bells” and “HO HO HOs” for more than a month already.



As some of you might know, I’m one of those who like the Christmas spirit and all the decoration things, and I usually decorate my home a few weeks before Christmas. As I celebrate both Catholic and Orthodox Christmas I take all the decorations off somewhere in February. I don’t see the point of decorating whole cities for only 2 weeks, it is a waste of time and money, and apparently the Irish are my kind of people. 🙂


However, even though everything was decorated from the beginning of November, usual day when Irish families decorate Christmas trees at home is 8th of December. In order not to be a stranger, our little (eco friendly plastic) Christmas tree is up and running since the evening of December 7th. 🙂 (The Feast of the Immaculate Conception
is celebrated at the 8th of December)



Decorating trees earlier is not the only thing different comparing to our traditional Christmas.

There is a cool tradition of wearing Christmas jumpers here and it seams that majority of Irish love it. It is absolutely usual to see a group of 10 – 15 people in a pub, all dressed in funny jumpers. Especially if it’s a last Friday before Christmas. Then many companies have “Ugly Jumper Day” during working hours, and there is a thing called “12 pubs of Christmas“. Yep, 12 pubs – 12 drinks at least. They can be found in cheep shops for 7-10 euros, but jumpers can be found on more sophisticated locations and can cost more then 30 euros. Trendy ones this season have Christmas lights built in the jumper, so beside people are dressed funny, they glow in the dark. 🙂


Of course, I decided to look just one of many crazy locals. 🙂


This jumper tradition is apparently extension of an old tradition where grandmothers would gift their grandchildren with hand made wool jumpers. Of course, these jumpers were ugly and ridiculous in eyes of youngsters so they started to make fun out of it. Actually, it apparently grew up into “ugliest jumper competition” and remained as good fun (and good business) even today.

Markets and Gifts

Such Christmas markets that we are used to are apparently relatively new thing here in Ireland. This year there are at least three markets here in Dublin, but overall, they are still far away from famous markets as those in Germany or in Austria. However, one of markets here is organized by German community in Dublin, it is called “German Market” and it gains popularity.


As on standard Christmas markets, food, drinks and amusement are there. One specific thing (or at least new to me) is warm apple cider. Something like warm apple juice with cinnamon and Christmas spices. 🙂


Even though the Christmas markets tradition is pretty fresh, I found information that Ireland is among those countries that spend the most during Christmas, and that average Irish spends 4000 Euros for Christmas. Most of this amount is spent on the gifts for the family and friends. 🙂 I’m quite sure that we’ll be those who will lower that average significantly. 🙂

One of traditional gifts here are Christmas Crackers. They are also used as Christmas tree decoration and they look like big candies. They are in fact Christmas game in which each family or party member pulls one side of the cracker. One will get only the “tap”, and the other one will get the rest of the open cracker with gift inside. Of course I like it. It’s like if we would crash Kinder eggs during the Easter. 🙂


Crackers, sweets, jumpers and all other possible gifts can be purchased everywhere, and most popular shopping streets in Dublin (Grafton and Henry street) are additionally equipped with a small stands along the street. It is barely impossible to walk through the streets these days, but it is nice in a Christmashollic way. 🙂

Christmas in the companies

If you work in a bigger company there are two common traditions here. One is called “secret Santa” or “Kriss Kindle”. It works in a way that all employees names are put in the box, and you draw one name from it. It totally does not matter if the name you draw is your well known colleague or your boss, you are his secret Santa and you are buying him/her a cheep but funny gift. The gift should also be a clue who is the secret Santa if you want to make it easier, and your colleague should guess who bought him/her a gift. Then, all the gifts are collected in a Santa’s bag and then handed and publicly opened in front of everyone. If the team is good and everyone is ready for some fun it can be a good laugh.


Just for the record, I got a set of DVD’s with some hilarious Irish Comedy and nice Christmas card with warm welcome to Ireland and a wish that I learn about Irish people and tradition in a funny way. 🙂 Cool, right? 🙂

The other tradition is Christmas party for all employees. I guess there are no needs to explain how party look like?
Well, OK, if you insist. It is a bunch of well dressed people cracking Christmas Crackers, having nice dinner, drinking good vine or other drinks and then enjoying the music and dancing till the morning. 🙂

This is how you look like if you won a Cracker game.


All in all, Christmas in Ireland is just a bit different and it lasts just a month more then in other European countries. 🙂

Traditionally, just like in other countries, at the Christmas day families are at home, having Christmas meals. Christmas meal should be goose or duck, but turkey or chicken will do to. One of traditional recipes is turkey with almonds and cranberry sauce.

Well, there are couple more days till Christmas, but we wanted to try it first. 🙂


It’s delicious, so if you have a chance, try it.

So, don’t be a Grinch and enjoy Christmas. 🙂


Ho Ho Ho

Balky 🙂

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