Christmas whitewashing: Around Christmas time, you’ll still find the odd farm building out in the Irish countryside that looks like it’s just been whitewashed. Long ago, farm families cleaned and then whitewashed every building on the farm in December. They were covered in white paint or limewash, to symbolically purify them for the coming of the savior. The tradition traces back thousands of years, not just through Celtic culture, but through other Central European cultures as well.

Before Christmas trees: Having an evergreen-type Christmas tree is a relatively new phenomenon in Ireland. Years ago, whole families went out to find holly bushes and ivy to decorate the mantelpiece and other parts of the house. Finding a holly bush with lots of berries was considered a harbinger of good luck in the coming year. Holly was also used because it allowed poor people to decorate their homes in the same way as those who were better off. The bush was so common in Ireland in winter there was plenty for everyone.

“Little Women’s Christmas” is a traditional day for Irish women to leave their housework behind and go out with each other to have fun. It’s a very old holiday, kept alive today by a few enthusiastic Irish ladies.

It’s considered bad luck to take down holiday decorations before “Little Women’s Christmas” (sometimes simply called “Little Christmas”).

A welcoming candle: A Christmas candle in the window, still popular not just in Ireland but also in the US, was long displayed as a symbol of hospitality (though Ireland never had a rule quite as strident as Scotland’s “first footing,” the New Year’s tradition dictating that one had to take in and lavishly entertain the very first person to enter one’s home after midnight). Window candles in Ireland were a symbol that the homeowner would welcome the Holy Family – unlike the inn keeper in Bethlehem who bore the guilt of having turned them away.

Merry Christmas from everyone at CMSE

This article was taken from