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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

15 old customs Irish people used to follow at Christmas time

Absolutely no sitting in front of the telly eating fistfuls of Roses back then.

1297620_99057f4c Source:

CHRISTMAS IN IRELAND was a little different back in the day.

With the help of the National Folklore Collection and dú, we’re able to get a little look at how people celebrated before fairy lights and festive films existed.

1. The week before Christmas, all the houses were to be cleaned and whitewashed.

2. Decoration was very simple, with sprigs of holly and ivy hung by the windows and over picture frames.

3. A candle would be placed in a window on Christmas Eve (sometimes in a hollowed-out turnip) to act as a light for any weary travellers on the road, and the door was left unlocked. Some families would even leave some food out on the table in case anyone came in during the night.

4. It was considered bad luck to leave decorations up past January 6 – the holly would be burned on the fire once it was finished with.

holly-tree-1030595_1280 Source: Pixabay

5. A typical Christmas dinner would have consisted of roast turkey or goose, boxty, sweet cakes and a plum pudding.

6. Tea was a bit of a Christmas treat, as opposed to the daily essential it is now.

7. It was considered unlucky to cut the pudding before Christmas Day.

8. And if it broke while it was boiling, it was believed that the baker would be dead before next Christmas. (Always with the death stuff.)

2000px-Christmas_Pudding_with_Flaming_Rum Source: Wikimedia

9. At Mass on Christmas morning, people took a few pieces of hay from the crib and put them under the bed for good luck.

10. Visiting neighbours or even leaving the house on the 25th (except to go to Mass) was discouraged.

11. But the poor postman was expected to deliver cards and letters on Christmas Day, and he’d get a bit of cake or whiskey for his efforts.

12. For the two weeks before Christmas, groups of ‘mummers’ (amateur actors) would go from house to house singing songs and reciting rhymes for money.

Day-of-the-Wren Source: doolin2aranferries

13. Then on St Stephen’s Day, groups known as wrenboys would dress up in old clothes and masks do the rounds, singing and collecting coins.

14. It was believed that if you ate well on New Year’s Day, you’d eat well for the rest of the year, so people had a big meal on that day too.

15. And the ashes from the fire were generally left in, because throwing them out on New Year’s Day was seen as bad luck. A superstitious lot, we are.

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