Nov 30, 2012

5 Irish Christmas Traditions

1. The Candle in the Window
Who doesn't love the simplicity of this? The tradition states that the candle will welcome Mary and Joseph as they wander because there is no room in the inn. Have you ever asked yourself if you were there at the time would you have turned them away? That's something I ask myself. I just turned away the Mormons at the door. (But I was nice about it.) Still...I keep asking myself that question. Do I open my heart?

Candle in Window, Decorative
Photo by sugargliding
2. Holly on the front door.
This stems from pre-Christian reverence for the holly tree but other trees were probably more sacred such as the yew and hazel. Christian tradition sees the holly as representing Christ's crown of thorns. It's considered good luck in Ireland to have a holly bush (or tree) planted by the front door. I have my own two wee bushes this year and I'm thinking of sticking some holly in a wreath. What do you hang on your door?

Holly On The Door
Photo by  philwhln

3. Plum pudding
Anyone in America eat this? It's a whole lot of work, but if you're game, here's a recipe: Irish Central's Plum Pudding

4. Roasted goose
There are plenty of Canada geese around here that I'd be happy if someone roasted, but I'm not sure I'd eat one. What about you?

Roasted goose
Photo by  th0mi
5. Midnight mass
I've never been. Our church has an 11PM service, but I've never been to that either. I'm a big fan of sleep, I guess. Still, it seems like bringing in Christmas Day at church would be special. Please, share with me which of these traditions you keep and why they are special to you.

Christmas midnight Mass
Photo by  rikki480

It seems to me that if you took the time to decorate, make that pudding and roast that goose, you'd be entirely too tired for midnight mass. I know I would be. Whew!


  1. I love the candles in the window. My own church has our Christmas Eve service at 6:30, but I once attended midnight mass at the cathedral on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. It was PACKED. And incredibly special, to worship and welcome the Day with so many folks.

  2. Isn't that a beautiful campus? I bet that was special, Ramona.

    By the way, I did get my own holly on my door this year! :)

  3. I also love midnight mass. Last Christmas I attended at a 200-year-old diocesan cathedral in Phoenix (and yes, the bishop was in attendance!) with my son, who is a musician there. It was not my first midnight mass but definitely my first in such a historic church. And it also was packed.

    1. Sounds inspiring, Jamie. You know how I love historic places!

  4. Thanks for sharing these Irish traditions - in my Irish-Spanish-German household, we have lots of traditions and it's not always clear where they came from! One of our traditions growing up was Midnight Mass, one of the most memorable being in Las Vegas. In true Vegas style, the mass was being televised so there were cameras and lots of bright lights...which blew a fuse. After waiting a few minutes for the lights to come back on, Monsignor decided to celebrate mass by candlelight. It was absolutely beautiful, and I guess not televised! Just at the end, the lights came back on to a church full of applause and laughter. That humble mass in the midst of so much glitz and glamour seemed so very appropriate for the holiday. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

    1. Thanks for sharing, RobRob. What a wonderful memory!