A Letter from Ireland:
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An Irish Christmas

An Irish Christmas

What is an Irish Christmas? I think that it’s an occasion that stands for the same things in many parts of the world.

But, back to our own Irish Christmas. It’s really feeling like Christmas around here at the moment! People are smiling more and starting to connect again with old friends and family members they may not have seen in a while. Our own son, Evan, returned home from England on Friday night so Christmas has definitely started on a good footing in our house!

I was asking Carina the other night about her memories of Christmas as a child. She grew up in a country shop but also spent a lot of time in her grandparents farm in rural north County Cork. There were two lovely memories that came to her in remembering her Christmas.

The first was the feeling of being on a farm. The feeling of being close to the animals – well, she could have been in Bethlehem itself! Grandad O’Donoghue always made sure that the animals had a little extra food on a Christmas eve – it just seemed like the right thing to do. And as they were out there, they looked up into the dark open sky, hoping to see one star a little brighter than all the others – and her granddad always managed to find her one!

Coming down from the animals toward the kitchen door – she remembers the glow of a single candle there in the window.  A light and symbol of shelter and comfort – and the feeling of home.

“There will always be room for the night and a welcome in this house”.

She remembers her grandmother saying as she lit this candle each night over Christmas.

In 1997, Mary Robinson – the President of Ireland at the time – started a tradition of lighting a candle in the kitchen window of the Áras an Uachtaráin (the presidents residence). She did it to signify the connection with all of the people of Irish Heritage and descent throughout the world.

She wanted to let all Irish people around the world (whatever your “percentage”) know that we are thinking of them – and there will ALWAYS be a welcome here in Ireland.

So, tonight Carina and myself will be lighting a candle in the kitchen window of our own home – a candle of friendship and welcome – for all the readers of Your Irish Heritage. Specially for you.

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas – Nollaig Shona Duit,

Mike and Carina.

  • Kathleen Fahey Horton says:

    My mother, born 1902 in USA, explained her family tradition close to Carina”s grandfather in Ireland . Her mother immigrated to USA from Ireland in 1890 at age of eighteen years. The main Christmas decoration was wreaths in the window with a lighted candle. Evergreens were the only other Christmas decorations. There was no Christmas tree anywhere to be found. The lighted candle represented the welcoming of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter for the birth of Jesus Christ. My other Irish descendants had arrived from Ireland a generation earlier and adopted the American way with a Christmas tree. The Christmas tree was introduced to America by German mercenaries early on. It is my understanding that Prince Albert, a German in Victorian times, introduced the Christmas tree to England. From there the tradition spread but slower in Ireland.

  • anne b says:

    does Ireland have many evergreen trees at its disposal ?

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