Christmas means… family, presents, chocolate, consuming triple our usual daily calorie intake, fake smiles unwrapping another box of bath salts, cooing over new babies, shaking our heads at how the others have grown, watching Jimmy Stewart tell us It’s a Wonderful Life for the fiftieth time.
Christmas means something different to every person. So we asked our bloggers what Christmas in Ireland meant to them, and we got some heart-warming, gift-grabbing, snow-crunching stories.
We hope to top them this year, and hope you do, too.
Orla on Christmas Eve Shopping
Every Christmas Eve, I join my Dad and my three younger brothers to find the most unique and thoughtful presents for my mum (well, as thoughtful as you can manage less than 24 hours before the fact). Gift gathering central is always Dublin’s resplendent Grafton Street. To get the boys there in the first place, my Dad bribes them with a full Irish breakfast. Then I give my present ideas to the men, we split into teams and reconvene later with some treasure. My Dad always has a gift-tastic trick up his sleeve which gets us all extra brownie points with Mum until at least January (when, conveniently, it’s her birthday).
After the goods are gotten we stroll down Grafton Street, smiling smugly at those who didn’t arrive early that morning to beat the crowds. The lights more dazzling than last year, sweet sounds of carolers in the crisp air, then there’s a sudden flurry of excitement and scrabble for camera-phones. We try to peek over the shoulders of the crowds. There in the middle of the commotion are none other than Bono, Damien Rice and Glen Hansard busking in the middle of Grafton St for charity.
With this magical memory firmly planted in our minds, we return home to wrap Mum’s presents and look forward to her surprised face the next morning.
Aileen on Christmas Day Walks
Christmas morning 2010, shreds of wrapping paper settling, we peeked behind the curtain to a surreal scene outside. Overnight, our island seemed to have been pulled north into the Arctic Circle. Collective gasps greeted the pure twinkling white snow, and the petrol blue cloudless sky above it. This sky was the kind that typically lords over Caribbean beaches, and not over such monochrome winter displays.
See, this was not your usual Irish snow. Oh no. This was icing sugar, Mariah-Carey-video snow. Pulling the three jumpers I own over my head and my camera around my neck, my mother, sister and I set out for the Dublin Mountains. (That sounds very ‘expedition’ – but in fact they’re a short uphill climb from our house.)
The snow crunched and fluttered. We kicked it, danced in it, threw it and rolled down the hill in it. For a short and eventful spell, a boogie board was commissioned into a homemade sleigh. It was abandoned once we realised it a) could not be steered and b) could not be stopped.
When melted snow had reached our emergency inside layer, we knew our time was up. We rolled home, to hot showers and hotter whiskeys, and a promise of a massive Christmas dinner.
Kicking the snow off my boots, I said goodbye to our winter wonderland for the day.
White Christmas – best present ever.
David on St Stephen’s Day Wren Traditions
As soon as I left for college Mum upped sticks and decamped to . Could she have chosen somewhere better for me to spend my summer holidays? I think not.
Adept at emotional blackmail she played the ‘You’ll be here for Christmas, of course?’ card, too, and, with that, Dingle became my Christmas holiday location also.
Christmas in Dingle, as I would find out when I spotted a group of locals in masks and straw suits playing lively jigs and reels up and down Dingle main street, was an eccentric experience. I was, as my mother explained to my open-mouthed and befuzzled self, in the very middle of the Wren.
‘The wha’?’, I responded.
Mum (well versed in all that is traditional in Ireland) gave me that look that said, ‘Sure you’re no sort of Irishman!’ and proceeded to fill me in;
The Wren (‘dreoilín’ as gaeilge), my dear, is a festival held on Stephen’s Day when the Wren Boys celebrate the bird’s patchy existence through history. Like its betrayal of St Stephen or the Irish soldiers when they were fighting the Norsemen. It’s a carnivalesque day out and we’re going into that pub there to watch them make the straw suits.
And we did – we listened to their music, we sang along, we watched men with pints in one hand and straw in the other fashion straw suits and I spent one of the most uniquely brilliant days of my life.
Merry Christmas from all at Discover Ireland