Irish Holidays: 
Many Examples of Joyful Holiday Traditions

Celebrating Irish holidays gives us the perfect opportunity to express our Irish sides, numerous times each year!  We try to bring at least one Irish expression into each of our holiday celebrations.  From time to time, we will plan an entire holiday party around an Irish theme.

Window Christmas Candle

This year we put Irish-flag and shamrock ornaments on our Christmas tree.  We laughed out loud, listening to the Dubliners sing "The Sick Note" as we enjoyed shepherd's pie and Guinness Stout on St Patrick's Day.

And as if that wasn't enough - we have Easter, May Day, Halloween, next Christmas and New Year's Day still to go!  We look forward to bringing fun and creative Irish expressions to those major holidays as well.

Expressing your Irish side during the holidays is fun! So is sharing your Irish wit and wisdom with others, to inspire their holiday plans.  If you are inspired to know more about Irish customs like these, please pay a visit to our main section on Irish trivia and traditions here...

Meanwhile, please enjoy these Irish holiday traditions! 

1. New Year's Day

Glass of Guinness

This popular global occasion is also on the list of national Irish holidays. 

Like many countries (certainly not all), Ireland celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1st, raising a pint of Guinness (or three or four) to toast the beginning of a new year.  Many Irish people also take off all or part of New Year’s Eve to get the celebrations underway a bit early. 

In that sense, the "Irish way" is not that different from other cultures. gives us a bit more detail on the New Year's holiday in Ireland as well!

2. St. Brigid's Day

St Brigid's Day Plaque

The first day of February is celebrated as the start of the spring season in Ireland, or Imbolc in the Celtic calendar. February 1st is also St Brigid’s day, in celebration of Ireland's female patron saint.

Among may other attributes, Brigid was considered a skilled brewer and one of her more famous miracles was turning bathwater into beer. Irish schoolchildren grow up learning of the greatness of St Brigid, her many achievements in the male dominated world she inhabited and the proud symbol of Irish womanhood she represents.  

St Brigid’s cross is one of the most recognizable symbols of Ireland, traditionally weaved from rushes but often now taking on many guises and made from all types of materials and represented in artworks, crafts, jewelry and many other design forms.

Hang St Brigid's cross to bring protection to your home.  Find much more information about St Brigid's day here.

3. St. Patrick's Day - The Most Well Known of Irish Holidays!

Irish holidays.  Funny Irish girl on St Patricks Day.

Originally an official feast day of the Roman Catholic Church, St. Patrick’s Day has gradually evolved into a full-fledged, worldwide celebration of Irish culture.

This most familiar of Irish holidays also involves “the wearing of the green” (especially shamrocks) in proud celebration of Irish culture. Parades through Irish cities and villages are common.

Because so many people of Irish heritage live in other countries (especially the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), St. Patrick’s Day, once so unique to Ireland, is now widely celebrated throughout the world.

Want some creative ideas on how to celebrate St Patricks Day? Here you go!

4. Good Friday

Good Friday

This somber holiday commemorates Christ's crucifixion and is one of the more important days of the year for Christian's in Ireland.  It is a bank holiday in the Republic and while bars and pubs may technically remain open, many elect to remain closed on this day.  For most Irish Catholics it is a day of fasting and contemplation, with minimal entertainment and a focus on charity and good deeds.

Good Friday mass often includes Station of the Cross processions in Irish towns, re-enacting the stages of the crucifixion.  It is also a day of preparation for Easter Sunday.  For more information about Good Friday, please have a look at this terrific article.  

5. Easter Sunday (and Monday!)

Easter Egg Hunt - Child's Point of View

As in other predominantly Christian cultures, many in Ireland observe Easter, and we devote a whole section to it here. But Ireland also celebrates the Monday that immediately follows Easter.

The day after Easter is traditionally celebrated by eating colorful Easter eggs, participating in egg-rolling contests, and drenching people with holy water blessed at Easter Mass.

In Ireland, the significance of Easter Monday goes far beyond its religious connotations: it also coincides with the anniversary of Ireland’s 1916 “Easter Uprising.”

6. Labour Day (May Day)

May Day in Ireland

In addition to honoring workers’ rights, this holiday marks a traditional Celtic festival celebrating the beginning of spring.

Ireland’s larger cities typically stage elaborate Labour Day parades.

Many Irish villages hold Labour Day fairs, where dancing around gaily-decorated maypoles (an ancient Celtic symbol for fertility) is popular.

May Day also signals the beginning of the traditional Irish courting season. Traditionally, large bonfires are lit throughout the Irish countryside on “May Day Eve.”

Many think these bonfires originally played a role in asking for a bountiful harvest.  This is one of the oldest Irish holiday traditions.

Want more information on May Day in Ireland?  Here you go!

7. Christmas Day

Irish holidays - season's greetings from Dublin, Ireland.

'Nollaig Shona Duit' is the Gaelic way of wishing you a Merry Irish Christmas - or more precisely, a Happy Christmas to you.

Christmas in Ireland is in many ways similar to other parts of the world. But there are many unique customs and traditions that you can observe to make your Christmas experience uniquely Irish. 

We have a whole article dedicated to these traditions.  Check it out here!

8. St Stephens Day

St Stephens Day

The day after Christmas is traditionally celebrated in Ireland as St. Stephen’s Day. This holiday commemorates the saint who is said to be the first Christian martyr.

Some call it the Day of the Wren because Irish legends link that humble bird with various episodes in the life of Jesus.

In some parts of Ireland, people (often called mummers) carry a caged wren from house to house while singing, dancing and playing music.

Many other countries also celebrate the day after Christmas, but it's called Boxing Day in the U.K., Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth nations.

(We like the Irish way better!)

Here is a bit more on St Stephens Day, courtesy of

Want More Irish Traditions?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish traditions!  Expressing ourselves through Irish-themed activities gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

Over the years, we have created many free, downloadable Irish games, puzzles, recipes, songbooks, travel guides, party plans, and much, much more.

These are immediately available to you - completely free of charge.

Just scroll to the bottom of the page and share your email address to get instant access!

What's Next?

At Irish Expressions, our our goal is simple: to provide you with a unique Irish experience, on demand, wherever you are in the world.

If you have enjoyed our section on fun Irish trivia and traditions, you have probably been exposed to many of the most exciting traditions that Ireland has to offer!

Will that entice you to visit Ireland - or to return if you have already been? 

We hope so!  

But even if that is not possible, you can still enjoy the magic of Ireland in these pages.  Check out the links at the top of the page for simple instructions on how to explore Irish landmarks, sing Irish songs, enjoy Irish food, and much more!