Celtic Holidays, Ireland, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

The Day Of The Wren Known as St Stephen’s Day

Straw Boys

One of Ireland’s unique and darker traditions, celebrated on December 26th, relates to killing a small bird in revenge for betraying St Stephen.
“Hunting the Wren” is an Irish tradition that is believed to pre-date Christian times. It sounds pretty cruel, where basically the tiny bird is captured, killed and tied to a pole. Local musicians and dancers would then dress in garish disguises and go house to house collecting money, food and drink for a party. Woe betide the house that did not donate to the cause – the wren could be buried outside their door which would bring 12 months of bad luck!

St Stephen


King of the Birds or Traitor of Saints??
The wren is considered the ‘King of the Birds’ and is also associated with the old year. It was said that capturing the bird alive would herald in a new and prosperous year. As the king of the birds the wren occupied a prominent position in the druidic pagan religion. Sailors and fishermen believed that those who possessed a wren feather would never be shipwrecked.

Legend has it that the wren was a small feathered traitor, but legend cannot agree if this dubious reputation was earned by betraying a saint’s hiding place, ruining a secret attack by Irish warriors or by being a fairy seductress – all intriguing in their own right.
One version of the story tells that St Stephen was hiding in a bush from his enemies, only for his hiding to be revealed by the chattering of a wren. Another maintains that in the 700s during the Viking troubles, when Irish warriors crept up on the Danes to attack, a little wren beat out a warning by picking crumbs from the drum held by a sleeping Viking. And lastly, there was a fairy woman called Cliona was in the habit of luring local men to a watery grave. She had the power to turn herself into, you’ve guessed it, a wren.

the wren

An Irish St. Stephen’s Day Tradition
The feast of St. Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr, is celebrated on December 26th. Connecting the Wren Boys ritual (Lá an Dreoilín) as the day when the traitor wren betrayed St. Stephen is a good example of how Ireland’s pagan traditions were merged with Christianity (it also happened with St Brigid)

The Wren, the Wren the king of all birds,
St. Stephens’s day, he was caught in the furze.
Although he is little, his honour is great,
Rise up, kind sir, and give us a trate.

We followed this Wren ten miles or more
Through hedges and ditches and heaps of snow,
We up with our wattles and gave him a fall
And brought him here to show you all.

For we are the boys that came your way
To bury the Wren on Saint Stephens’s Day,
So up with the kettle and down with the pan!
Give us some help for to bury the Wren!

Modern Revival
Nowadays, a more humane Wren Boys is still practiced in mainly rural areas, they don’t kill the wren anymore, thank goodness. The tradition consists of “hunting” a fake wren, and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Crowds of mummers or straw boys celebrate the wren by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colorful motley clothing and, accompanied by céilí music bands, parade through the towns and villages. A celebration is still held around the decorated pole and the money that is collected from the townspeople is now donated to a school or charity.

Cautionary word of warning to all wrens – a wren’s feather is still thought to bring good luck, so maybe lie low around Christmas time…

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Celtic Holidays, Celtic Jewelry, Ireland, Irish Christmas, Irish Jewelry

Irish Christmas Gift Guide

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Irish Christmas Ornaments & Irish Christmas Gifts

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Irish Christmas Gifts and Traditions

Like most countries, Ireland has many of it’s own special Irish Christmas traditions. Ireland’s Christmas traditions that have survived to modern times are steeped in Celtic culture and religious faith. Irish Christmas Traditions like placing a candle in the window, having Christmas Plum Pudding or placing holiday crackers a small Irish Christmas Gift at each placing at the Christmas table are traditions still carried on today.

Last Minute Irish Stocking Stuffers and unique little Irish gifts for all the stockings you need to stuff this Christmas! Tiny Irish Gifts, cute enough to impress but not break the bank.

Mens Claddagh Necklace

Christmas is a special time to celebrate and show that special loved one at home and afar how much you appreciate and love them. What better little gift than a peice of jewelry in someone specials stocking. Celebrate the Christmas season in style with our stunning range of Irish Jewelry Christmas gifts and Celtic Jewelry for Christmas at The Irish Jewelry Company.

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Irish or not, if you want to give an Irish Gift for Christmas as a token of your friendship, love and loyalty that has meaning, the Claddagh rings may be the choice for you. Claddagh rings, are often mistakenly spelt Clatter Ring or Clodagh Ring, like it sounds (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring. The Claddagh ring means eternal love, loyalty, and friendship. Claddagh rings consists of a heart with a crown held by two hands symbolizing love, loyalty and friendship. Claddagh Rings have become a world renowned symbol of love.

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Jewelry, Irish Christmas, Irish Jewelry, Irish Traditions

Carry On Celtic Tradition. Give traditional Celtic jewelry steeped in symbolism and meaning.

 give traditional Celtic symbols and their meanings

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Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh Story….. A short history of the Claddagh ring. Long ago a young man was captured and sold into slavery from the fishing village of Claddagh. Many years passed and he wondered if his true love would wait for him. Over the years he stole tiny bits of gold from his master to make her a ring. He fashioned a heart for love, a crown for loyalty and hands as a symbol of friendship. After many years he finally returned home to Claddagh. Upon his return and to his joy he discovered his true love had waited for him. He gave her the ring as a symbol of their love, loyalty and friendship forever known now as the Claddagh.

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Trinity Knot

The Trinity knot also known as the triquetra is a continuous interweaving triple knot symbolism no beginning or ending. The Celts believe the number three was sacred such as the three stages of life, the three elements; earth, sky and sea and three stages of time  being past present and future.  Later the Christians adopted the symbol to represent the Holy Trinity. In modern times the Trinity knot is now interpreted as the Irish love knot.

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Wild Irish Rose

The Wild Irish Rose is a celebration of the sturdy, self-reliant and gorgeous Irish women past, present and future.

Like the song says….. “My Wild Irish Rose, The sweetest flower that grows. You may search everywhere, But none can compare with My Wild Irish Rose”

Excerpt from the song My Wild Irish Rose written by Chauncey Olcott.

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Tree of Life

The sacred tree or Tree of Life was a central part of early Celtic spirituality. The sacred Tree of Life represented the fruitfulness of the earth, evoking spiritual growth and rebirth. Trees provided the Celts with a source for basic sustenance. Without trees, life for the Celts would have been difficult. The Celts believed the Tree of Life was rooted in the heart of the earth and that it drank the sacred waters of life. The Tree of Life stretched its branches into the heavens bridging earthly and celestial powers. Every Celtic tribe had its own sacred tree as a symbol of sovereignty, sacred wisdom and spiritual growth.

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Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross is viewed as a symbol of faith synonymous with the Irish culture. Legend also says St. Patrick, while preaching Christianity drew a cross through a Celtic circle symbolic of the moon Goddess. Hence the Celtic cross was born. Today the circle of the cross is viewed as a of God’s endless love.

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Shamrock

The shamrock is the traditional symbol or Ireland. The shamrock forms a triad and the Celts believed three was a mystical number. Saint Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy Trinity to the Celts. If good things come in threes then this silver 3-leafed shamrock pendant in beautiful emerald green is definitely a good thing.

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Celtic Sisters Knot

The Celtic Sisters Knot is a symbol of sisterhood and the strong, eternal bond we share with our sisters and friends. The intricate Celtic knot heart is an unbroken line symbolic of an everlasting love. The stylized triquetra or triple spiral, woven within the Celtic knot heart symbolizes the three stages of woman. The three stages of woman are maid, mother and wise woman. Where are you and your sisters on the spiral of life? Celebrate the powerful, life long bond of friendship between women with our Sisters Knot.


Celtic Knot

A Celtic knot is a stylized representation of an endless knot used for decoration by the Celts. There are eight basic types of knots. They have no religious or philosophical meaning other then representing the endless intricacy of humanity and nature. Spirals are the earliest decorative motif of the Celts and the first to disappear. Death and rebirth is the symbolism in the ever changing directional flow of the spiral.

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Triskele

The triple spiral design of the triskele is associated with the Celts of Ireland and can be seen on the ancient site of Newgrange, in County Meath. Dating from 3200 BC, before the arrival of the Celts in Ireland, Newgrange contains carvings of the beautiful triple spiral design. Today the triskele is still used in Irish craft as a symbol with enduring meaning and beauty.

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Interesting Stories, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

Irish Christmas Traditions

irish christmas traditions

Ireland is a magical country, filled with old Irish traditions and folklore dating back many years. Christmas in Ireland is an especially magical time of year. Many Irish Christmas traditions have become part of the Christmas celebration of many nationalities and have made their way into main stream American Christmas customs.

In Ireland the Irish people say “Nollaig Shona Duit” pronounced NO-Lihg HO-nuh ghwich. This Irish Christmas greeting literally translates to Happy Christmas.

What is Irish Christmas plum pudding ?

One beloved Irish Christmas tradition is that of the Christmas plum pudding. The traditional Irish Christmas plum pudding has had humble beginnings. Plum pudding was originally a porridge flavored with scraps of leftover meat or fish, thickened with bread crumbs and bound together with eggs, fruit and spices. During the Tudor and Stuart period in England, dried prunes were added to the pudding mixture which became known as a plum porridge. Eventually becoming called plum pudding and often eaten with Brandy Butter Sauce.

Another very common Christmas custom in Ireland is the candle window. The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas Eve is still practiced today and has become an American Christmas tradition as well. The candle in the window has a number of purposes. One of its primary meanings is as a welcoming symbol to Mary and Joseph as they traveled looking for shelter. The candle also indicated a safe place for Catholic priests to perform mass during the penal times when Catholic masses were not allowed. Another part of the tradition is the candle should be lit by the youngest member of the family and should only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name Mary.

What is the Feast Day of St. Stephen and the Wren Boy Procession?

In Ireland celebrating the Feast Day of St. Stephen’s is usually accompanied with the Wren Boy Procession. Saint Stephen’s Day celebrated on December 26th, also know as the Day of the Wren is a national holiday in Ireland.

During Penal times there was a plot in a village against the local soldiers. The soldiers were surrounded and about to be ambushed when a flock of wrens pecked on their drums and awakened them in time to defend themselves. The plot failed and the wren became known as the “Devil’s Bird”.

On Saint Stephen’s Day a procession takes place where pole with a holly bush is carried from house to house and families dress up in old clothes with blackened faces. In olden days an actual wren bird was killed and placed on the pole. This custom has largely disappeared but the tradition of visiting from house to house on St. Stephen’s has survived and is a large part of the Irish Christmas celebration today.

The Feast of the Epiphany and Women’s Christmas

Last but not least a fabulous Irish Christmas tradition that hasn’t made its way to the states is called “Women’s Christmas”. In Ireland on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, is when traditionally the Irish finish celebrating Christmas. It is also known as “Nollaigh na mBean” in Irish or Women’s Christmas. Tradition has it that women get the day off and the men of the house get to do the housework, cooking and take down the Christmas decorations. Women meet up to go have a day out and treat themselves. Have you ever celebrated Women’s Christmas?

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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Jennifer_Derrig/2157773

via Irish Christmas Traditions and Customs.

Celtic Holidays, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

Irish Christmas Traditions

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Like most countries, #Ireland has many of it’s own wonderful #Irish #Christmas traditions. Ireland’s Christmas traditions that have survived to modern times are steeped in Celtic culture and religious faith. Some of our favorite Irish Christmas Traditions are placing a candle in your homes window, the Laden Table, St. Stephens Day, Plum Pudding, and Women’s Christmas. Read more about this treasured Irish Christmas. http://www.theirishjewelrycompany.com/irish-christmas-traditions/

Celtic Holidays, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

Twelve Days of Irish Christmas

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12 Days of Irish Christmas

  • On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a tiny, white cottage by the sea.
  • On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two woolly sheep.
  • On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three Celtic rainbows.
  • On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four cups of tea.
  • On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five Claddagh rings.
  • On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six turf fires burning.
  • On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven salmon swimming.
  • On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight fiddlers fiddling.
  • On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine shamrocks growing.
  • On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten Celtic dancers.
  • On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven harps playing.
  • On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve Celtic angels.

Celebrate the holidays with our 12 Days of Irish Christmas Ornament Set imported from Ireland. This beautiful decorative gift 12 days of christmas ornament setset features symbols of Ireland such as the claddagh rings, shamrocks, fiddles and so much more.

  • Our 12 Days of Irish Christmas Ornament Gift Set contains with 12 symbols of Ireland ornaments measuring approximately 3 inches round.
  • The set comes elegantly packaged in a gift box designed to look like a book.
  • The gift box measures approximately 9.25″ x 12″ x 3″.
  • This ornament box is ideal for storage and makes a beautiful gift.
  • Imported from Ireland.

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Interesting Stories, Irish Christmas, News

Christmas Gift Delivery Shipping & Delivery for 2015

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Christmas Gift Delivery, by Christmas Eve Dec 24th 2015

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