Category: Ethnic traditions

Christmas traditions in Ireland

Wren Day is celebrated on 26 December, St. Stephen’s Day in a number of countries across Europe. The tradition consists of “hunting” a fake wren and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Then the crowds of mummers, or strawboys, celebrate the wren (also pronounced wran) by dressing up in masks, straw suits, and colourful motley clothing. They form music bands and parade through towns and villages. These crowds are sometimes called the wrenboys.

Nativity scene

In the Christian tradition, a nativity scene (also known as a manger scene, crib, crèche (/krɛʃ/or /kreɪʃ/), or in Italian presepio or presepe) is the special exhibition, particularly during the Christmas season, of art objects representing the birth of Jesus. While the term “nativity scene” may be used of any representation of the very common subject of the Nativity of Jesus in art, it has a more specialized sense referring to seasonal displays, either using model figures in a setting or reenactments called “living nativity scenes” (tableau vivant) in which real humans and animals participate. Nativity scenes exhibit figures representing the infant Jesus, his mother, Mary, and her husband, Joseph.

One Little Candle in the Window

The Candle in the Window otherwise in Gaelic Coinneal Mór na Nollag. On Christmas Eve a big candle was left to burn in the window, often lit by the youngest member of the family. The idea was to light the way of the Holy Family who was travelling the road. It was also lit as a welcome to visitors.

Yule

While we observe the winter solstice around the world, Germanic cultures of northern and western Europe primarily celebrated Yule. At the midpoint of winter, they celebrated the rebirth of the sun and the light it would bring to the Earth.

Saturnalia – December 17

The Roman poet Catullus described Saturnalia as “the best of times” — he didn’t even have to offer a caveat, like the Christmas-obsessed Charles Dickens did in his novel Great Expectations. Saturnalia was just straight-up awesome.