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Saint Stephen's Day ***** Christmas Time in Ireland

Christmas Time in Ireland

Christmas in Ireland is always very traditional. For many people it is their favourite time of year For many weeks prior to Christmas all our houses, shops and streets are elaborately decorated with vividly coloured decorations. Even the streets in our town are lit up brightly using red-coloured lanterns.

Every child sends a letter to dear old 'Santa Claus' or 'Father Christmas' as he is also known. This old man with his red suit and his fading grey beard receives hundreds and hundreds of demanding letters from young children worldwide.

Many department stores all over Ireland hire people to dress up as Santa and listen to the children's endless requests!!! Christmas cards bearing the traditional Christmas greetings wing their way to friends and relations at home and abroad.

Most children believe that Santa lands on their rooftops in his sleigh which is led by reindeer that fly through the cold, Christmas air.

The Christmas Mass

As Ireland is predominantly a Catholic country the Christmas Mass plays a major part in the Christmas celebrations.

Four weeks before Christmas an Advent Wreath is lit. This consists of a circular wire surrounded by palm, holly and ribbon. Five candles are placed in the wreath - 3 purple, 1 pink and 1 white. The white candle is lit on Christmas day.

There are generally a number of masses on Christmas Day and a Special Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The Church is filled with flowers and lighted candles and a wonderful Christmas atmosphere is created. The Mass lasts about 1 hour. The Priest and people celebrate the birth of Christ. Sometimes the Nativity is reenacted in the Church accompanied by Christmas Carols.

Every Church has a Crib which consists of a stable together with life size figures of The Holy Family.
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St. Stephens Day

St. Stephens Day falls on the day after Christmas Day, the 26th December. This day is widely celebrated throughout Ireland. It is called after St. Stephen the first martyr.

On this day little children and indeed some adults go round to their neighbours collecting sweets and money. They call themselves 'The Wren Boys'. This comes from an old Irish tradition. As they collect the goodies they all sing an old Irish Rhyme:-

'The wren, the wren the king of all birds
On St. Stephen's day he got caught in the furze.
Although he was little, the family was great.
Up with the kettle, down with the pan
Give us a penny to bury the wren.'

Traditional Christmas Dinner:

Prawn Cocktail

Roast stuffed turkey served with delicious bread sauce

Selection of vegetables including - Roast Potatoes,
Brussels sprouts, carrots, peas, croquetttes,
cauliflower and cabbage

Traditional Christmas Pudding with fresh cream/
Trifle and Cream.

BY- Lorraine Mc Namara Mary Kirane
Did you know that :

Mount St. Michael Ireland Santa Claus - The English name of the legendary jolly, red-garbed man who delivers presents to good children at Christmas is derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas, a modification of Sint or San Nikolaas.

Nicholas is the patron saint of children, scholars, virgins, sailors, and merchants, and in the Middle Ages he was regarded by thieves as their patron saint as well. Legend tells of his surreptitious gifts to the three daughters of a poor man, who, unable to give them dowries, was about to abandon them to a life of sin. From this tale has grown the custom of secret giving on the Eve of St. Nicholas.

Teddy Bears Needing to sell a supply of stuffed bears a toy shop owner Morris Michtom wrote to Theodore Roosevelt and asked if he could name the toys 'Teddy's Bears' in honour of the president's refusal to shoot a bear during a 1902 hunting trip. Teddy bears have been comforting children and adults alike ever since.

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