Traditions rule in Irish Yule
December 21, 2009
By Marese Heffernan
Senior reporter, Youth Journalism International
LIMERICK, Ireland – Imagine having to arrive at the church 45 minutes early to make sure you get a seat for Mass. The idea is unheard of at any other time of year, maybe even in any other place, but that’s Christmas in Ireland.
The 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass means getting dressed at 5 p.m. and ready to go by 6:30. Even in this day and age with religion taking a backseat as people focus on other issues, the people of Ireland would never turn their backs on the church at Christmas.
As the holiday season becomes more and more commercialized every year, with shopping, partying and gift-giving at the fore of the traditions, Ireland remains determined to keep the religious celebration at the center of the Irish Christmas.
As a mainly Catholic country, it is not surprising that Christmas has remained true to religious traditions. That’s not to say that people don’t go crazy buying expensive gifts, decorating their houses elaborately and celebrating the season with many a night on the town, but the subtle traditions remain which remind us that our Christmas is about something more than having fun and celebrating the break from school.
Each year, many Irish households light candles on Christmas Eve and put them in the window as a symbol that Mary and Joseph are welcome in their home. This also serves to remind us that visitors should be welcomed at this time of year and some families even set an extra place at the dinner table to show this. Many people spend Christmas Eve in the local pub to meet with friends and enjoy the festive time together.
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