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A home with a Christmas tree and lights on beside a fireplace with five stockings hanging up above the fireplace.

10 Mar 2017

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Christmas is celebrated differently around the world. In Japan, for example, KFC is becoming a staple of Christmas dinner. In Austria, men dress up as the demon Krampus to roam the streets and frighten small children.

And in Venezuela, locals rollerblade to mass. We’re no different here in Ireland with plenty of traditions of our own too. Today, we’re taking a look at our 10 favourites.

1. The school-made angel on the ‘real’ tree


You’ll always know who the favourite is based on the ancient school-created angel that makes it to the top of the tree.

While your mother might swear she ‘lost’ yours, there’s a reason that Dave’s gets top spot. It doesn’t matter that one of the wings fell off or it looks like the angel partook in a brawl on the way to your house; it’s Dave’s and he’s the favourite.

So there. And don’t even get us started on those fake trees – who does Mary down the road think she is?

2. 12 pubs of Christmas

Sure it wouldn’t be an Irish Christmas without a valiant (but probably failed) attempt at the 12 pubs of Christmas around every local within a five kilometre radius of your house.

Christmas hats and dodgy, light-up jumpers are donned as the party troop make their way in high spirits through the first six pubs. Pub seven arrives and the very idea of another pint starts to seem like a truly horrible idea.

The only thing worse? The impending hangover! Make sure you’re prepared with a greasy fry for the morning after.

3. Turkey for every meal for a week afterwards


Turkey omelette. Turkey sandwiches. Turkey, gravy, and mash for dinner. The possibilities are endless.

Still, we wouldn’t change it for the world.

4. Christmas mass

It doesn’t matter if no one in your family has been to mass in the last year. On Christmas eve, you and your siblings were bundled into your coats and into the car for the annual trip to mass.

Likely, you’d spot half your neighbours, some people you went to school with, and that one aunty Linda who no one in the family really talks to. Now you’re that bit older, you’ll find that you’re willingly hopping in the car to head in. Sure it’s tradition.

5. The unholy row over sweet wrappers being put back in the tin


Whether your family swears allegiance to Quality Street, Roses, or Celebrations, you’ll know the pain of dipping your hand into the tin and foraging for the colour of your favourite, only to pull out an empty wrapper – or even worse, a half-forgotten sweet that was abandoned for something better.

And sure, coffee sweets are a bit rough but even they’re better than a balled up bundle of caramel wrappers!

6. Doing the big shop on the 8th of December


Or the day on which half the countryside descends on big Irish cities like Cork and Dublin for some serious shopping. Selection boxes and tins of sweets will be purchased en-masse. It’s a chaotic, joyous scramble. And we always run into those people we promise to meet up with for a tipple, as if Christmas was months long and we had all the time in the world!

7. Gorging on Christmas pudding

Stuffed full of butter and mounds of fat, the Christmas pudding is a special treat. Love them or hate them, they are a staple of the Irish Christmas. Whether you take them with custard or plain, everyone knows someone with a granny who has a killer secret recipe.

Nothing speaks to the memory of growing up in Ireland quite so much as the Christmas pudding.

 8. Forgetting to buy batteries


Every year.

Santy needs to get his act together and remember that Furby doesn’t run on good will and the price tag.

9. “It’s too cold for snow...”


Scientifically, we’re not even sure this oft-spoken proclamation makes sense, but as we get further into December, you’ll hear it uttered as the counter-point to anyone who is hoping for a white Christmas.

10. Saving your best coat/clothes for the relatives’ visits on Christmas Day

No matter how old you get, you still follow the basic outline of your childhood Christmas. Morning is for gift unwrapping, lunch time is the big dinner, and afterwards you’ll head out to see your various relatives to exchange tins of biscuits and soap sets.

Just as you did as a child, you’ll lay out a suitable outfit and winter coat for the adventure. Old habits...

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