Irish Christmas Traditions


It is the holiday season and the midst of Advent, the period of the Christian calendar when the nativity of Jesus Christ is revered.  In doing so, the Irish have some traditions that are still held dear which include:

The Candle in the Window on Christmas Eve

Christmas Candle

Christmas Candle

In many cultures, the candle in the window signals a family’s loyalty to a loved one who is traveling and away from home.  The Irish still place a lighted candle in the window of the house on Christmas Eve.  This is a welcoming symbol and is done primarily as a reminder of the travels of Mary and Joseph who travelled together looking for shelter.  The lit candle also provides a reminder of the persecution suffered during Penal Times when households placed this signal in the window to indicate a safe house where priests could perform mass which was forbidden by law.  For many Irish households, the lighting of the candle is a ritual in itself.  Once lit on Christmas Eve, some believe that the household will have good fortune if the candle still burns on Christmas morning.  Many still adhere to the tradition that dictates that the candle be lit by the youngest member of the household and can only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name Mary.

The Irish also hold dear to musical traditions during the holidays with many festive parties and events including gathering for drink, a good meal and some tunes at the local pub.  


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