Irish Christmas Traditions
Ireland is a land of myth and magic, with many ancient traditions still in exisance today. Read on to find out where these Christmas traditions stem from.
Candle in the Window
Many families in Ireland today still show a lighted candle in the window of their home on Christmas Eve. This stems from the custom that to show a light in the window would light the way of a stranger out after dark. It goes back to ancient times, when the laws of hospitality were stronger and not abused. To have a light in your window on Christmas Eve to welcome a stranger meant that you were welcoming the Holy Family too. To have no light meant that you shared the guilt of the Innkeeper at Bethlehem who said, "No Room"!
The Wren Boy ProcessionDuring Penal Times there was once a plot in a village against its local soldiers. The soldiers were surrounded and were about to be ambushed when a group of wrens pecked on their drums and awakened them. The plot failed and the wren became known as The Devil's bird. On St. Stephen’s Day (December 26) a procession takes place where a pole with a holly bush is carried from house-to-house, and families dress up in old clothes and with blackened faces. In olden times an actual wren would be killed and placed on top of the pole. This custom has to a large degree disappeared but the tradition of visiting from house-to-house on St. Stephen's Day has survived and is very much part of Christmas in Ireland.