There are some Christmas traditions in Ireland that stand the test of time, like the tradition of leaving a candle burning in the window on Christmas Eve. Some believe it to be a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph who sought shelter on the very first Christmas Eve. To have no light in your window means you share the guilt of the innkeeper who turned them away.
Another story surrounding the tradition stems from the time when Ireland was under English rule and saying mass was outlawed. The candle in the window served as a sign to priests that it was safe to say mass in that house. Should English soldiers inquire about the meaning of the candle, the Irish would say it was a symbol of welcome, as above.
But many believe the tradition pre-dates Christianity and was an ancient way of welcoming the return of the light after the winter solstice.
Another Irish tradition is a bracing swim on Christmas morning. The most famous spot to take the plunge is the 40 Foot in Dublin Bay. In olden days it was a men-only swimming spot and skinny dipping was the norm, but nowadays it’s open to men, women and children. Togs are now required although there’s a small area reserved for those who prefer to go swimming in their altogether, and on Christmas morning there’s usually at least one fellow taking the plunge in a Santa suit.
But there’s a newer tradition that began in 2008 when the German supermarket chain Aldi first offered its run-up-to-Christmas produce bargains. Now a whole range of supermarkets pick a handful of fruits and veggies and offer them up to the Irish consumer for almost but not quite free.
This year, apart from the traditional Christmas dinner staples of potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and brussel sprouts, the stores have been offering deeply discounted lemons, limes, pineapples, melons and avocados. The competition is fierce. I was standing in Tesco looking at mounds of pineapples under a sign saying “5 for a euro” when a lady sidled up to me and whispered in my ear “You can get them for 5 cents each at Aldi.”
Judging by the rate at which those pineapples, melons and avocados flew off the shelves, it looks like there are going to be plenty of non-traditional Christmas dishes being served up in Irish kitchens all over the country.
Merry Christmas Ailsa !
You too, Max. xxx Ailsa
They can keep the brussel sprouts…
Have a great Christmas!
Haha, you either love them or hate them, Pat. Wishing you a very merry sprout-free Christmas! xxx Ailsa
The candles was the best bit. Have a great christmas.
I do love candles at Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday, Bill. xxx Ailsa
What a lovely tradition!!! Happy Christmas to you!
You too, Gunta. xxx Ailsa
Sounds yummy to me! Hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas! (and I like that candle in the window)
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas too, phil 🙂
Have a great Christmas. Thanks for the posts this year. M
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas too, hope you get all that you wish for (and a little more too!)
Merry Christmas Ailsa!
You too Livvy, hope you made Santa’s nice list this year! 😉 xxx Ailsa
Merry Christmas and thanks for the tradition share! 😀
Merry Christmas to you too, Bastet. xxx Ailsa
Grazie! xxx Ailsa
love the idea of chasing 5 cent pineapples for Crimble. I believe the SALES are starting TODAY in London town. Happy Birthday Baby Jesus!
Sales on Christmas Day? Yikes, I hope the shop guys are getting paid bank to work. Merry Christmas to you, Mrs C. xxx Ailsa
Merry Christmas, Ailsa – thank you for sharing the traditions with us!
Merry Christmas to you too Leya, hope it’s a good one! xxx Ailsa
Thanks for sharing the traditions! As one said before me: They can keep the Brussel sprouts!
…und einen guten Rutsch. (I have to admit I love a good Brussel sprout!) 🙂
Merry Christmas, Ailsa!
You too! Are you spending the holidays Stateside this year? xxx Ailsa
Yes, I am, Ailsa, and I’m planning on being stateside for quite a long time! Indefinitely. 🙂
Hurrah! Happy holidays at home. xxx Ailsa
Wow! Hope the markdown tradition moves to the States as well! Merry Christmas!
That would be nice, wouldn’t it? A little bit of Christmas cheer goes a long way. Hope you had a wonderful day, Rusha. xxx Ailsa
Wow, didn’t know about that Ireland tradition. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Merry Christmas, Ailsa!
Thanks Timothy, hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas too! xxx Ailsa
My aldi doesnt do that, I think they should dont you? 🙂
I think they should too, Gilly! It certainly added a little cheer to the dreaded Christmas shopping experience. 🙂 Hope you had a lovely day. xxx Ailsa
I love the idea of the candle in the window welcoming the coming of the lighter days. And I love sprouts too, even though I haven’t bought any this year, but at 5c I might have 🙂
Merry Christmas Ailsha, I look forward to many more challenges from you in the New Year!
Thanks Jude, hope you’re having a very Merry Christmas too. xxx Ailsa
Merry Christmas! I’m sure a lot of people out there are having a fun time trying to rustle up a festive pineapple dish… ^__^
Indeed, I’m sure there’ll be some very unusual experiments – duck a la pineapple? I’m going to try making pineapple chutney myself. Wish me luck! Merry Christmas 🙂
Wow! My fruit-loving daughter would love this new tradition.
We always have (fake) candles lit in our window all Christmas season. I didn’t know the story behind it. It’s just one of those common Christmas decorations that we’ve always seen and liked.
It was a fruit-lover’s paradise round this way. It made for a most unusual but rather healthier-than-usual Christmas! 🙂
Merry Christmas Ailsa! I guess this is the best time to stock up on those Brussel sprouts. Just kidding, I mean the pineapples.
Haha, I stocked up on both – I love brussel sprouts; they’re pure Christmas for me! 🙂
Happy Christmas to you! I was wondering why there was a fecking pineapple on the kitchen counter when I walked in – now I know 😉
The ‘Crap Christmas jumper’ thing seems to be a new tradition as well – not sure if it’s only in Ireland though! But it gave me a couple of giggles in the pub, seeing 50-year-old men in jumpers with flashing lights 😉
Haha, that made me laugh, yeah, you don’t expect to be greeted by pineapple when you arrive home for the holidays! Oh, yes, and those jumpers are terrifying, especially the ones with a maniacal-looking Rudolf with a red flashing nose. Gulp!
Saw a few of those too!
Thanks for sharing Christmas from across the world ! Love your Blog Ailsa !
★ ° . . . ☾ °☆ . ● ¸ . ★ ° :. . • ○ ° ★ . . . ° . ● . ° ☾ °☆ ¸. ● . ★ ★ ° ☾ ☆ ¸. ¸ ★ :. . • ○ ° ★ . . . ¸ . ° ¸. ● ¸ . ° ☾ ° ¸. ● ¸ . ★ ° :. . • ° . :. . ¸ . ● ¸ ★ ★☾ °★ . . °☆ . ● ¸ . ★ ° . • ○ ° ★ . . ☾ ° ¸. ● ¸ ° ☾ °☆ . ¸. ★ You have been sprinkled with Christmas Snow, Peace, Love, & Happiness! ★ ° . . . ☾ °☆ . ● ¸ . ★ ° :. . • ○ ° ★ . . . ° . ● . ° ☾ °☆ ¸. ● . ★ ★ ° ☾ ☆ ¸. ¸ ★ :. . • ○ ° ★ . . . ¸ . ° ¸. ● ¸ . ° ☾★ ° . . . ☾ °☆ . ● ¸ . ★ ° :. . • ○ ° ★ . . . ° . ● . ° ☾ °☆ ¸. ● . ★ ★ ° ☾ ☆ ¸. ¸ ☾ °☆ . ● ¸ . ★ ° :. . •
Ooh, I love those sprinkles, hurrah. Happy New Year, hope it’s a great one for us all! xxx Ailsa
We shall make it so Ailsa!