5 reasons to spend Christmas in Ireland

photo by Jolanta Paczek

Christmas is one of the most wonderful and special time of the year for many people, and while some prefer to celebrate it at home with friends and families, there are many travelers who like to take the party somewhere else and have their Christmas fun in a new and exciting place where there is more to do than just watch movies or sit by the fire. Ireland is an ideal Christmas destination if you don’t like extreme colds or snowstorms, because the whether is cool enough to make you feel like winter, but not cold enough to freeze your nose off. And besides, there is much appeal to celebrating Christmas in the Irish way – the craic in Ireland is not limited to nights out in the pub! If you need more convincing, here are 5 reasons to spend Christmas in Ireland.

Christmas in a Castle

While most of the Irish are content to celebrate Christmas in a traditional way, cozy and laid back, back in the past when nobles lived in castles, Christmas was a lavish affair. In Dromoland Castle, which now functions are a luxury hotel, Christmas is one of the most important events of the year. This beautiful medieval castle is the perfect destination for those who want to spend their winter holidays surrounded by comfort and elegance fit for queens and kings.

St Stephen’s Day

Dromoland Castle, photo by Charles W Glynn

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Ireland is only the beginning of the fun. St Stephen’s Day, or Boxing Day, is just as big a fuss as the eve. There is no lazing about on St Stephen’s Day, unless you do that in front of the TV watching football matches and horse races. But even better is to go and see the matches for yourself and cheer with the crowd. Plus, there’s the tradition of the Wren Boys Procession, a custom dating back to ancient times.

The Feast of the Epiphany

The end of the Christmas holidays in Ireland is actually January 6, on the Feast of Epiphany, also called Women’s Christmas. Traditionally, in the past when women did all the chores in the house, this was the one day in the year when men would do all the cooking and cleaning, while women had the day off. Even today, the Feast of Epiphany is a time when Irish women get together for girls nights out!

The Christmas food

Dublin in winter, photo by William Murphy

Like in other countries where Christmas is celebrated, this time of the year is the time when the food is the most delicious, and unusual dishes are prepared which you can’t get hold of any other time of the year. One of the fixtures of the Christmas table is a caraway seed cake for dessert, and the main dishes include spiced beef and turkey.

The Wren Boys Parade

One of the oldest and most enjoyable Christmas traditions in Ireland is the Wren Boys procession, which involved in the past a dead wren carried from house to house by boys asking for money. Today, in smaller Irish towns and villages, there are Wren Boys parades, minus the dead bird: boys and young men (and women too!) dress up in costumes and masks, and carry a pole with a holly bush attached to it. Rural parades and festivals are definitely a reason to spend Christmas in Ireland!

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