Surprising Things that Irish people do at Christmas

Lots of shopping, exchanging of gifts, a focus on food - Irish people celebrate Christmas just like everybody else around the world. However, there are some surprising things that Irish people do at Christmas that are unique and set us apart!

It starts with a Toy Show
It's a hard one to explain but it all starts with a Toy Show. This year, the Late Late Toy Show was on Ireland's national broadcaster on November 25th and this will mark the official start of the Christmas season in Ireland - a full month before Christmas. Families aim to get their trees up in time to gather for this annual event. Young and old, everyone gathers around the tv and watches the event live, wearing their Christmas jumpers. For those that are too young, they watch the following day but the entire nation debates during the show and after the show about what they saw and their verdict on how it compared to previous years. It's now watched across the world with greetings coming in from as far away as America, China and the United Arab Emirates. 

Plunging in for the Christmas Day Swim
Swimming became huge during lockdown and one of the biggest days of the year for wild sea swimming is Christmas Day. From Lahinch to the 40 foot in Dublin, it mostly involves a lot of shouting and cheering, a nip of hot whiskey or coffee and a quick dip and straight back out as the crowds make it a hugely festive fun day. The Christmas Day Swim has become a huge tradition in recent years in Ireland from the Irish sea on the East Coast to the Atlantic on the West Coast. Many now do the swim for charity and Ireland is known as one of the most giving nations on the planet. Some do it after completing a fun run for charity, which has also become a tradition to complete before sitting down to Christmas dinner.

Galway at Christmas

Midnight Mass - but not at midnight!
Whether people go to church or not during the year, in Ireland especially in smaller villages and towns, it's traditional to gather for the "Midnight Mass'. It's often now not even at midnight but held at 9pm and people often come straight from having a few drinks. It's really a place to catch up with locals and friends and many people don't even enter the church but just stand outside to catch up with friends.

Stocking up on Christmas Snacks
Bags of Tayto crisps, tins of USA assorted biscuits, Barry's tea, Cadbury’s Roses, the full Irish breakfast and definitely Kerrygold butter. Every family is
different but trolleys start getting stocked up as early as October popping in the early Christmas essentials.

Busking on Grafton Street
From Bono to Glen Hansard, Grafton Street is magical on Christmas Eve in Dublin. Traditionally to help the homeless, the U2 frontman is joined by surprise guests from Hozier to Dermot Kennedy and hundreds gather. They busk and the crowds join in, and it has to be seen to be believed.

'Tis the season to be jolly - Irish style!
Posted on December 13, 2022