‘Tis the season to be jolly, and people all over the world are celebrating their own form of Christmas. If you are of Irish heritage or just happen to love Celtic culture, make this Christmas even more special by incorporating Celtic traditions into your holiday.
Light a Candle: One time honored Celtic tradition is to light a single candle in your window on Christmas Eve. Historically, this was done as a gesture of welcome for Mary and Joseph as they traveled around seeking shelter. During Penal Times (a time in which laws were enacted against the Catholics at the end of the seventeenth century), priests were not allowed to perform mass, and the candle also indicated a safe place where they could perform the ceremony.
Deck the halls: We all know the beloved Christmas carol about putting holly all over your house. In no place in the world is this tradition more prevalent than Ireland, where holly could be found in abundance in people’s homes. Holly boughs were also given to neighbors as holiday gifts, and there is even a folklore superstition that fairy creatures would come in from the snowy cold to seek shelter in the holly branches. To the Celts, holly was thought to represent life as well as rebirth. The evergreen color was meant to symbolize a time where everything else was bare and the red berries symbolized the arrival of Spring.
Food for Thought: What would a traditional Irish dinner table look like on Christmas? While turkey seems to be popular in countries like the United States, a typical Irish Christmas dinner could feature roasted goose, potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables, sausages and puddings. Spiced and sliced beef is often eaten cold with bread in the days following the holiday, not unlike the way Thanksgiving leftovers are consumed in the U.S.
Whitewashing: In more rural areas of Ireland the tradition of whitewashing remains. Nowadays, only the outhouses and stores are whitewashed, but many years ago entire houses were washed. Women would scrub and polish every inch of the home until it was practically shining, and then the men would come through with a bucket of whitewash and purify everything in honor of the coming of the baby Christ.
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