Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas in Ireland: 6 surprising customs...

Irish people love Christmas more than the French I think, or at least that's what they're portraying. So here's a little list of surprising Irish Christmas "customs" I've discovered over the years...

1- Believing in Santa

This is the strangest one of all. In France I would say the average age a child stops believing in Santa is probably around 8 years old. Here, it's not uncommon for a child to believe until he's 11 or 12! Parents seem to be responsible though. I have heard things like "Oh, she's 10 and I really have to get her to believe at least one more year!" It's like they want to keep the Christmas magic as long as possible. Is it a good or a bad thing, I don't know. I just think it's a bit too much. On another note, I was also told some kids pretend to believe so late because they want better presents. Madness! 

2- Santa

Once again, Ireland can go a bit crazy with the Santa experience. Queuing for hours and paying 5 or 10 euros to get a picture with the man himself is not my idea of the Christmas spirit. Having said that, we visited Causey farm with the kids, and even me, being a bit of a Grinch, I had a great time. It was a bit expensive, but definitely worth it. The kids very much enjoyed visiting "Mary & Joseph", seeing the animals, learning about Irish traditions in the Christmas barn, meeting the elves and Mrs Claus, trying to find their name on the nice list in the elves workshop and Santa even came down the chimney. They received presents and even got to see real reindeer ! What more could you ask for?

3- Christmas cards

We're almost in Christmas cards overload both at home and at work. Friends send Christmas cards, customers and suppliers do the same. The craziest thing is kids giving each other cards at school. The first year Ciaran was in playschool, I was completely unaware of that "tradition", so imagine my surprise when I found 10 Christmas cards in his bag! We repaired the mistake the following year, but seriously, you know the parents are the ones writing the cards, it's wrecking everybody's head and the gesture is just becoming meaningless. 

4- Presents

Being far away from home, I don't have the dilemma of getting presents for my parents, sister, brother and nephews but this brings another problem. Where do you draw the line with presents? For example, the first Christmas with my son, our childminder gave him a Christmas present. And the parents of the other children she was minding too! Seriously, where does it end?? I love giving presents, but I'm starting to run out of ideas (and money)!

5- Christmas crackers

I know I talked about it before but this is my favourite Irish Christmas tradition. Who doesn't love a bit of a friendly "fight", a crappy joke, a small gift and a ridiculous paper crown? It's so cheesy but I just love it. And it seems to be a consensus with all my foreign friends, and even my family back home.

6- The general Christmas spirit

I know I haven't spent Christmas in France for a good while so I might be mistaken, but I think this holiday seem definitely more important for Irish people (unless I have just met Christmas nuts who start counting the days from September). For some reason it just looks more festive. Too many decorations, Christmas carols choirs, Christmas jumpers, movies, music, Xmas FM, Santa at every corner of the street, even the school is over the top with elves "watching" over the kids to see if they've been naughty or nice! 

I definitely think Irish people have the best Christmas spirit I've ever seen...

What about you? How do you celebrate Christmas in your own country and what do you think about the way Irish people celebrate it?