Celtic Holidays, Ireland, Irish Christmas

An Irish Christmas Tradition…THE WREN BOY PROCESSION

St. Stephen’s Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian saint’s day to commemorate Saint Stephen, celebrated on 26 December in Ireland.

St. Stephen’s Day (Lá Fhéile Stiofáin), or the Day of the Wren (Lá an Dreoilín), is an occasion to commemorate the life of St Stephen, a Christian martyr. Most people in Ireland today spend the day quietly with close friends or family.

On “Wren’s Day”, in some areas of Ireland like Dingle, groups of musicians, figures dressed in straw suits and followers in fancy dress or disguise can be seen moving about the streets and lanes “hunting the wren”.

During Penal Times there was once a plot in a village against the local soldiers. They were surrounded and were about to be ambushed when a group of wrens pecked on their drums and awakened the soldiers. The plot failed and the wren became known as ‘The Devil’s bird’.

On St. Stephens day 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. Stephens Day has survived and is very much part of Christmas.

This custom has to a large degree disappeared but the tradition of visiting from house to house on St. Stephens Day has survived and is very much part of Christmas.

St. Stephen’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, but, the celebrations have little connection to the Saint.

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Celtic Holidays, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

THE WREN BOY PROCESSION

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During Penal Times there was once a plot in a village against the local soldiers. They were surrounded and were about to be ambushed when a group of wrens pecked on their drums and awakened the soldiers. The plot failed and the wren became known as ‘The Devil’s bird’.

On St. Stephens day 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. St. Stephen’s Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian Saint’s day to commemorate Saint Stephen, celebrated on 26 December

This custom has to a large degree disappeared but the tradition of visiting from house to house on St. Stephens Day has survived and is very much part of Christmas.

Celtic Holidays, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

THE LADEN TABLE

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After evening meal on Christmas eve the kitchen table was again set and on it were placed a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, a pitcher of milk and a large lit candle. The door to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and Joseph, or any wandering traveler, could avail of the welcome.

Celtic Holidays, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

THE CANDLE IN THE WINDOW

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The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas eve is still practiced today. It has a number of purposes but primarily it was an symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they traveled looking for shelter.

The candle also indicated a safe place for priests to perform mass as, during Penal Times this was not allowed.

A further element of the tradition is that the candle should be lit by the youngest member of the household and only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name ‘Mary’.

Celtic Holidays, Irish Christmas

Women’s Christmas in Ireland

Have you ever heard of “Women’s Christmas”?
In Ireland on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, it is when traditionally the Irish finish celebrating Christmas. It is also known as Nollaigh na mBean in Irish (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 have a day out and treat themselves.
Are you celebrating Women’s Christmas this year?1451451_10153608957655245_810225938_n

Irish Christmas

Traditional Irish Christmas Plum Pudding

Our traditional Irish Christmas Plum Pudding has had humble beginnings. Plum pudding was originally a porridge flavored with scraps of meat or fish, thickened with bread crumbs and bound together with eggs, fruit and spices. During the Tudor and Stuart period dried prunes were added to the pudding which became known as plum porridge.

Today it is simply known as Christmas Plum Pudding. Although Plum Pudding is not the type of food generally thought of as a pudding today by commercial standards. It is exactly what one would expect of a traditional old fashioned Irish pudding. Plum Pudding drizzled with Brandy Butter is the essence of Christmas in Ireland and is deliciously served with a fresh cream sauce or Brandy Butter.

christmas pudding with custard


Irish Christmas Plum Pudding Serving Ideas…

Nutmeg Sauce

2/3 cup sugar*
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add boiling water and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes until ingredients are well blended.

Brandy Butter

4 tbsp softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric beater until smooth and well blended. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until firm. Brandy Butter may be sprinkled with nutmeg before serving.

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Celtic Holidays, Irish Christmas

Irish Christmas Traditions

Ireland, like most countries, has a number of Christmas traditions that are all of its own. Many of these customs have their root in the time when the Gaelic culture and religion of the country were being suppressed and it is perhaps because of that they have survived into modern times.

THE CANDLE IN THE WINDOW
The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas eve is still practiced today. It has a number of purposes but primarily it was an symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they traveled looking for shelter.

The candle also indicated a safe place for priests to perform mass as, during Penal Times this was not allowed.

A further element of the tradition is that the candle should be lit by the youngest member of the household and only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name ‘Mary’.

THE LADEN TABLE
After evening meal on Christmas eve the kitchen table was again set and on it were placed a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, a pitcher of milk and a large lit candle. The door to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and Joseph, or any wandering traveler, could avail of the welcome.

THE WREN BOY PROCESSION
During Penal Times there was once a plot in a vilage against the local soldiers. They were surrounded and were about to be ambushed when a group of wrens pecked on their drums and awakened the soldiers. The plot failed and the wren became known as ‘The Devil’s bird’.

On St. Stephens day 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. Stephens Day has survived and is very much part of Christmas.

DECORATIONS:
The placing of a ring of Holly on doors originated in Ireland as Holly was one of the main plants that flourished at Christmas time and which gave the poor ample means with which to decorate their dwellings.

All decorations are traditionally taken down on Little Christmas (January 6th.) and it is considered to be bad luck to take them down beforehand.

TRADITIONAL GAELIC SALUTATION

The Gaelic greeting for ‘Merry Christmas’ is: ‘Nollaig Shona Duit’
……which is pronounced as ‘null-ig hun-a dit’.
and means HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

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Irish Christmas Traditions – An article provided by The Information about Ireland Site.