This section doesn’t currently include any content. Add content to this section using the sidebar.

Image caption appears here

Add your deal, information or promotional text

This section doesn’t currently include any content. Add content to this section using the sidebar.

Image caption appears here

Add your deal, information or promotional text

Irish Christmas Traditions

It’s December! Christmas has come around quickly this year, and with last year’s restrictions holding people back from the usual celebrations, Ireland is certainly ready to launch the festivities. Already we’ve seen Christmas lights, trees and music pop up in abundance, but what are the traditional Irish ways to celebrate Christmas? If you’re looking for something a bit different this year to try with family and friends that connects you to Irish heritage, keep reading!

The Christmas Day Swim

The Christmas Day swim isn’t done for religious reasons… in fact, no one is sure why anyone would choose to dunk themselves in winter Irish waters on Christmas day, but they do. This tradition happens all over Ireland but is especially popular in South Dublin where a huge group of people run into the sea together. If you’re feeling particularly deranged this Christmas, it could be a (very) cool way to start the festivities!

A Candle In the Window

Popularised by Christianity, this tradition goes back hundreds of years in Ireland. The idea is to light a candle that lies on your windowpane, to represent Mary and Josephs struggle to find shelter before giving birth to baby Jesus. The candle represents the offering to strangers and the poor that they are offering food and shelter within their house. Obviously, due to stranger danger and the lingering worry of Covid, this offer of invitation is less practical in modern times, however, the candle’s symbolism is still a kind one to partake in during Christmas.

The candle in the window was very popular during the 1970s, and whilst it has slightly died down, you can still see candles popping up here and there in Ireland during the holiday season. T

ry popping one in your window as an added Christmas decoration this year!

The Laden Table


Following on from the theme of hospitality and kindness towards strangers, the Laden Table is a step further from the candle in the window. Traditionally in a Christian Irish household, after Christmas dinner is feasted upon, the table is cleared and then refilled with another meal, usually consisting of bread and milk. This is done so that if any stranger comes across the house in times of need, there is a meal set for them to enjoy on Christmas. This is also done as symbolism for the story of Mary and Joseph being refused entry for shelter as an act of kindness. Again, less practical in modern times and rarely practised, but some families partake in the laden table for tradition and religious reasons!

Guinness and Mince Pies for Santa

We’d like to think instead of milk, Santa would be appreciative of some good old Guinness rather than milk when doing the rounds in Ireland. Therefore, in Ireland, people tend to leave pints of Guinness and mince pies out, which is definitely for Santa and not the Mums and Dads. Next time you go for the milk and cookies on Christmas Eve, think about treating Old Saint Nick to some of Ireland’s best culinary masterpieces instead.

The Women’s Christmas

You can tell this tradition is an old fashioned one, and hopefully redundant these days, but none the less it is an Irish Tradition. The ‘Women’s Christmas’ lies on the 6th of January, which marks the end of the Christmas celebrations. On this day, women are not to lift a finger, and then men of the households are to carry out all the cooking, cleaning, and chores as to give women a break for their hard graft over Christmas. This is also the day that all Christmas decorations are to be taken down, with Christmas officially over.

The 12 Pubs of Christmas

You can tell this tradition is Irish just by glancing at the name, and yes it is exactly as it sounds. 12 pubs, every night, leading up to Christmas Day. This tradition is just really an excuse to go to the pub, and it isn’t surprising that it is quite popular over Ireland. Tourists often visit and try to partake in the 12 pubs of Christmas, but often struggle and drop out on day 5 or 6.

Whether you choose to display a Christian act of kindness, dunk yourself in sub-zero temperatures or get very drunk over a very long period, there’s a traditional Irish way to Christmas for everyone. Think about incorporating one of these traditions into your celebrations this year and, good luck!