Irish Christmas Traditions: A Global Celebration with an Irish Twist!

One of the most basic Irish Christmas traditions is to greet friends and family with the words 'Nollaig Shona Duit' - the Gaelic way of wishing you a Merry Irish Christmas - or more precisely, a Happy Christmas to you.

Irish Christmas in Dublin

Christmas in Ireland is in many ways similar to other parts of the world. But there are many unique customs and traditions that make this wonderful holiday uniquely Irish. 

Celebrating Christmas the Irish way can be one of the most satisfying ways to express your Irish side, wherever you are in the world.

Want to give it a try?  Great!

Let's have a look at a few Irish Christmas traditions, and how you might bring them into your own holiday celebrations!

Santa in Ireland

Irish Christmas Traditions - Santa and Sleigh

For the most part Santa is celebrated in much the same fashion as in other parts of the world, although he is sometimes called Father Christmas in certain parts of Ireland.

Santa visits at festivals, parades and shopping areas to all the children’s delight.

And he delivers presents on Christmas Eve. One difference however is where he leaves the gifts for children.

Rather than leaving them under the Christmas tree, a child might find them at the foot of their bed, or sometimes inside a pillow case or a Christmas bag.

It is also customary to leave treats for Santa, although instead of milk and cookies, Santa may enjoy a mince pie and a glass of Guinness on his travels through Ireland.

And just to be fair, a carrot is often left for Santa's reindeer.

A Candle In the Window

Irish Christmas Traditions - Candle in the Window

An old Irish Christmas tradition that is still commonly practiced is leaving a lit candle in the window of one’s home on Christmas Eve.

This tradition has several meanings, from the welcoming of Mary and Joseph, to a symbol of Catholic community to a general offering of support for weary travelers on the road.


Irish Christmas Traditions - Mistletoe

The use of Mistletoe as a holiday symbol had its roots in Celtic pagan traditions.

This is because while mistletoe is actually quite rare in Ireland, it is a plant that manages to thrive in the winder.

The Celts, during their celebration of Yule or the Winter Solistice honored and revered any plants that did not cow to the cold winter.

Mistletoe is one of those

A Brisk Christmas Swim

Irish Christmas Traditions - Christmas Swim

One of the bravest Irish Christmas traditions we know of (and we confess it's one we have never participated in!) is the Christmas Day Swim.

Though popular in many parts of Ireland, this tradition is most famously practiced in the sea, near the Forty Foot Rock just south of Dublin.

Some say it is the cure for the Christmas Eve hangover. However, it's primary purpose today is to raise money for various charities.

Little Christmas

Irish Christmas Traditions - Man Doing Household Chores

Little Christmas is celebrated on January 6, at the end of the Christmas holiday.

It is only after this date that any Christmas decorations can be taken down. To do so before hand is believed to bring bad luck.

One of the traditions of Little Christmas comes from the old fashioned role of women as the primary doers of household chores.

After all of the hustle and bustle of the season; cooking, cleaning, preparing and tending to family and friends, it is customary to observe January 6 as 'girls night out.'

Men take on all the household chores for the day. Children give special gifts to their mothers, aunts and grandmothers.

While the reason for it is outdated, the observation of 'girls night out' on Little Christmas is still alive and well in many parts of Ireland!

An Irish Christmas Tree

Irish Christmas Traditions - Irish Christmas Tree

You can express these Christmas traditions and many more symbols of Ireland culture by choosing an Irish theme for this year's Christmas tree.

For much more on decorating an Irish Christmas Tree, visit our friends at

Amazing Christmas Ideas

This site is chalk-full of beautiful images and ideas for celebrating our favorite Irish holiday. 

Soak it in ... and then come back to continue your journey with us!

Irish Christmas Recipes

Irish Christmas Traditions - Christmas Pudding

There are many different traditional Irish Christmas recipes. Some date back for centuries.

For instance, spiced beef was popular long before anyone thought of inventing the refrigerator and came at a time when curing meat was the only way to prevent it from becoming rancid!

Click here for some of our favorite Irish Christmas recipes!

Irish Christmas Sayings

Irish Christmas Traditions - Greeting Card

Christmas is one of our most cherished holidays, and Irish Christmas sayings are some of our most cherished Irish expressions!

Familiarizing yourself with Irish Christmas proverbs and sayings is a sure way to add life and cheer to your holiday season.

Visit our Irish Christmas Sayings page here for some of the most popular and memorable Christmas sayings from Ireland...

Irish Christmas Songs

Irish Christmas Traditions - Celtic Woman

We love Irish Christmas songs for their beauty and history. 

Christmas is so important among the people of Ireland that it is often a month-long celebration starting from 8 December of the current year until 6 January of the following year!

Click here for some of the most important Christmas songs from Ireland.

Want More Irish Christmas Traditions?

Bringing Irish Christmas traditions into your holiday celebration is a great way to express your Irish side!  If you would like even more ideas and examples, pay a visit to Irish Holidays here