Monday, 28 December 2009
Nollaig (Christmas) Shona (happy) Duit (to you)
Traditionally the Christmas season begins on 8 December in Ireland and lasts until 6 January. Christmas is a wonderful time to be in Ireland. In Ireland there is still a deeper sense of the meaning of the season here. As you walk through the streets of cities like Cork you may hear choirs large and small singing on the sidewalks, street musicians with flutes, harps, violins or guitars playing the strains of familiar carols or favourite Christmas recordings wafting from the shops.While few private homes decorate outside beyond the festive wreath on the door, the towns, cities and shops go all out. The Christmas season doesn't really get into full swing in Ireland until December when streets are lined with lit decorations and live Christmas trees are often mounted like flag staffs from building fronts. Larger department stores and shops fill their windows with animated scenes and figures. Gifts for friends and from family members to each other pile up under the Christmas tree in the days before Christmas and as everywhere a lot of squeezing, shaking and guessing goes on, but in the back of everyone's mind is what Santa will bring on Christmas morning. And there is no peeking or opening any gifts until Christmas morning! Santa Claus is a very popular fellow in Ireland too. He and his helpers can be found arriving at many malls and department stores by helicopter or fire engine to take Christmas wish lists or for the very lucky children a trip to visit his workshop in Lapland (the North Pole) can be arranged! In Ireland Santa works a little differently than in the states. Instead of leaving everything under the tree he leaves each child's gifts in their room, often in a pillow case at the end of the bed, though sometimes a large gift may be left unwrapped under the tree. Christmas stockings are a tradition with some families and are hung Christmas Eve for Santa to fill. He arrives quite late as Midnight Mass on Christmas eve is still a strong tradition for many families and the chimney is his main entrance into most homes.
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