NewsRecipes | December 11, 2017

Christmas in Ireland

Christmas in Ireland - Traditions

Christmas in Ireland is a celebratory occasion, much like most other countries with people exchanging gifts, overindulgence and of course the visit of Santa Claus!

Holly wreath
Christmas in Ireland of years gone by would have been 'leaner' than today so people made use of available products. Holly, which grows in abundance in Ireland during winter, allowed people to decorate their homes to mark the Christmas occasion. It is a tradition which has remained to date with many people decorating their front doors with a holly wreath or a spin off version using fir & pine cones.

Candle in the window
Many homes in Ireland still place a lighted candle in their window at Christmas time, although nowadays it will be mostly electrical or battery operated as opposed to an open flame! Traditionally it was a sign that Mary and Joseph were welcome into the house and used as a sign of hospitality to weary travellers looking for a bed for the night.

Family fun
Pantomime has become a big part of Christmas in Ireland and is something for all the family. With lots of "he's behind you" it is a great day out for the kids. With an average of two weeks school holidays over Christmas, the pantomime provides a great excuse for getting out of the house. Most pantomimes run from December until mid-January and for many Christmas time would not be the same without it!

Epiphany or 'little Christmas'
The majority of homes in Ireland take down their Christmas decorations on the 6th of January which is known as The Feast of The Epiphany or little Christmas. Translated in Irish as 'Nollaig na mban' (women's Christmas) the 6th January was when women got a day off and the men did all the housework! This would have enabled them to meet up with other female family and friends and enjoy a day off! Nowadays only a few counties in Ireland honour this tradition, namely Cork and Kerry.

Traditional drinks
One thing that is guaranteed in Winter is cold weather. Nothing will warm your bones better than a warm mulled drink. Easy to make and delicious to drink, mulled wine is a traditional Christmas drink. We have included two recipes, one using wine and one with apple juice, so all the family can enjoy this festive beverage!


1 bottle red wine
60g/2oz demerara sugar
1 cinnamon stick
grated nutmeg
1 orange, halved
1 dried bay leaf
60ml/2fl oz sloe or damson gin (optional)

Preparation method

  1. Put the wine in a saucepan with the orange, sugar, bayleaf and the spices.
  2. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Taste to see if you want the wine sweeter, and add more sugar to taste.
  3. Off the heat, stir in the sloe or damson gin if you are using it.
  4. Strain into heatproof glasses and serve at once.
    [Recipe (c) BBC Food]


1litre of apple juice
strips of orange peel
1 cinnamon stick, plus extra to garnish, if you like
3 cloves
sugar or honey to taste

Preparation method

  1. Simmer the apple juice with the strips of orange peel, cinnamon stick and cloves for about 5-10 mins until all the flavours have infused. Sweeten to taste.
  2. Serve each drink with a little orange peel and a piece of cinnamon stick, if you like.
    [Recipe (c) BBC Good Food]

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