Are you interested in learning some Christmas greetings in Irish? In this post, we will walk you through all the Irish Christmas blessings (the Irish version for greetings) and break down each blessing in a way that you will not forget what they all mean. In addition to that, the Irish culture is filled with unique traditions, and you will learn more about this today. Without further ado, let’s start learning!
Christmas In Ireland
Irish people tend to hang mistletoe in the room to ward off the evil spirits. People do not believe in such things altogether now, but they still do that part of their culture/ tradition. Another aspect of the tradition is to kiss under the mistletoe. It supposedly keeps the couple together for a long time.
Around Christmas time, there are different traditions followed by Irish people as a part of Irish heritage and Irish culture. In this blog, you will learn both about how the Irish people celebrate Christmas and what they tell each other as Christmas wishes.
Famous Irish Christmas Traditions
There are different Irish Christmas traditions that many Irish families celebrate. There are not many families that are continuing these traditions today, but there are still some elders who are trying to pass on the Irish values to the younger generation. Following are the most famous Irish traditions which the world needs to know about:
The Christmas Swim
Starting with a fun tradition that most Irish people follow on Christmas Day. This could be a bit shocking since the nights of 25 December are one of the chilliest nights almost everywhere. People are seen on the streets but in gloves and socks wrapped up in their cozy jackets yet drinking hot chocolate or some other hot tea to keep themselves warm.
Meanwhile, the Irish people visit the sea and swim in the chilly water to enjoy Christmas. There is a group of people who swim and manifest their joy in a fun and crazy way. The people come with their bathing suits only and dive into the freezing water in the mornings usually—what a refreshing way of celebrating Christmas.
On 25th December (Christmas Day), the water temperature in the sea in Dublin is 50°F / 10°C. It mostly takes place in Sandycove, a suburb of South Dublin. Many people get drunk on Christmas eve, and thus to sober up, they give their bodies a different kind of shock by diving right into the freezing waters. Would you ever think of doing the same?
Decorations are an essential part of Christmas worldwide, and the Irish people do not stay behind on this one either. In Ireland, people tend to start preparing for Christmas beforehand. The houses are adorned beautifully, inside and out, and the streets look mesmerizing and worth remembering as well.
The best kind of Christmas Tree for Christmas is considered the one that people go and cut from the woods. The tree can also be bought by going to a nursery and thus picking an excellent tree for the day. Many people even purchase ready-made trees for Christmas, but all do not do it. The people who are closer to the traditions tend to hand-pick all the items.
Candle In The Window And On The Table
Another custom in most of the Irish families on the new year is that they light up a candle and put them in the windows. This is a very traditional thing, and few families do that since most are too busy or cannot be bothered to do so.
Since Christmas is a holy day, it is thought that it can be considered as a safe haven for Joseph and Mary so that they can get some time and stop their search. The youngest child in the house does the honors as a gesture of welcoming Jesus into the house.
It also seems to have a historical significance as in the Penal date, it was considered as a way of telling most of the people that they can express themselves in a better way.
Another main part of this tradition is to have a candle on the table. People tend to prepare luxuriously for Christmas day; therefore, after having their meals, they tend to have a simple dinner on the table (usually bread) and light the candle on the table. This seems to serve the same purpose as the previous one; welcoming Joseph and Marry.
Christmas caroling is also an Irish tradition that is still alive in Ireland. People often sing songs in the form of groups to celebrate Irish festivals. Many people of Ireland enjoy caroling; families, religious groups, charity collectors and shop owners, etc.
If a singing person turns out to have a good voice, they often receive a generous charity. Countless bystanders are listening to the caroling with a drink in their hand, holding the hands of their loved ones.
This tradition also seems to have a history. It is told that in the old times when there was a war going on, the Irish soldiers had been helped by a much notorious kind of bird “wrens” who woke them up in the times of needs and therefore the people had started caroling door to door to get some donations which carrying a mannequin of a Wren.
Initially, it used to be only in a specific dress and door to door, but now this seems to be changing, and people are seen singing almost anywhere and everywhere, thus letting everyone enjoy this day to their fullest.
In the Irish culture and mythology, there are several accusations on the Wren. As there is extreme importance given to the birds in Irish mythology, this event also shares the same history. It was thought that this bird had played a role in deceiving the prominent Irish figures in the past, along with being the cause of Irish failure.
Irish people had some gruesome traditions related to this mythology, and many people hunted the Wren to nail it on a pole as a punishment. This took place on Christmas day. This is not followed anymore since people are more educated and aware of animal rights now. However, a manifestation of this event is still seen.
On 26th December (St. Stephen’s Day), some young people assemble and dress up like a wren, thus wearing paints on their faces. They go door to door to collect donations for a good cause. It is a cheerful sight since they are dancing throughout the walk.
They dance as they go house to house and sing to celebrate the day. There are also cases where people call them before they approach them and ask for donations. In different regions of Ireland, this tradition is carried out in different ways.
There is a proper setup where the children/ people in different costumes are coming together and thus playing various dramas. In the main squares, the people are watching these plays and therefore applauding the brilliant which these young people manifest to entertain the crowd while passing on the cultural folktales and traditions.
The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze,
Although he was little his honour was great,
Jump up me lads and give him a treat.
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
And give us a penny to bury the wren.
Seeing Horse Races
On the same day (St. Stephen’s Day), many people start seeing the horse race. It is a tradition in Ireland to have a horse race on the 26th of December. Many people have different stories about this tradition, and some even associate this tradition with St. Stephen.
This tradition is also considered as a tribute paid to their Irish ancestors. People often go with their friends to see the horse races where they get to drink together, bet on horses and amuse themselves. It is a great outing if you ever visit Ireland on Christmas.
Another main event followed by Christmas in Ireland is the Epiphany festival for women. It is the time of the year in which women have to sit back, enjoy the time of their lives, and let the men do some work. Another term used for “epiphany” in Ireland is “Little Christmas”. It is also celebrated in places besides Ireland.
It takes place on the 6th of January. Since it takes weeks to prepare for Christmas and then have a proper celebration even days after Christmas, this day finally marks an end to all the celebrations. Men tend to cook for their wives and start to clean up everything since the celebrations are ending.
This day is knowns as Nollaig na mBan in Irish.
Traditional Christmas Greetings In Irish
There are different Irish blessings which the Irish people tend to give each other. Here is one of the most common and famous Irish Christmas Blessings:
The light of the Christmas star to you;
The warmth of home and hearth to you;
The cheer and goodwill of friends to you;
The hope of a childlike heart to you;
The joy of a thousand angels to you;
The love of the Son and God’s peace to you.
Happy Christmas In Irish
Considering that Irish Gaelic is a relatively complex language, it should not be forgotten that the same rules apply while wishing someone a happy Christmas. Unlike the English language, Irish Gaelic tends to use different phrases for wishing people a happy Christmas in Irish based on their number.
Nollaig Shona Duit (Merry Christmas)
Nollaig shona duit is used to say Merry Christmas to a person (one person). So if you are talking to one individual and you need to give them good Christmas wishes, then one way can be by saying this. Let’s break down the entire phrase to learn the meanings of each word.
Nollaig means Christmas, shona means happy, and duit means to you. All in all, the entire greeting wishes a happy Christmas to the next person.
Nollaig Shona Daoibh
This is another Christmas greeting for wishing Christmas. It looks like the previous one, right? The only difference is that this one can be used with several people/ a group of people while wishing Christmas.
Nollaig Faoi Shean Is Faoi Shonas Duit
Nollaig faoi shean is faoi shonas duit means merry Christmas and good luck to you. This is another way of wishing Christmas to a friend.
Nollaig Shona Agus Athbhliain Faoi Mhaise Duit
This phrase can be divided into two main parts Nollaig Shona and agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit. The first part means Merry Christmas, while the second part connects the Christmas wish with the new year’s wish. It means “Merry Christmas and a happy new year”.
This is also for one person since the word duit is used.
Irish people make sure to include good health as their best wishes by saying “Sláinte.” This is yet another way of greeting each other on Christmas and new year’s eve. There are different sayings in Irish languages around Sláinte as well.
It is essential to know the most important words to learn how to say Merry Christmas in Ireland. Here is a compilation of some most common Irish words for Christmas. You can learn these to make sentences.
|Christmas Vocabulary In English||Christmas Vocabulary In Irish|
|Saint Nicholas||Naomh Nioclás|
|Kris Kringle||Kris Kringle|
|Santa Claus||Daidí Na Nollag|
|Santa’s Helpers||Cúntóirí Santa|
|Christmas Tree||Crann Nollaig|
|Christmas Carol||Carúl Nollag|
|Frosty The Snowman||Frosty An Fear Sneachta|
|Gingerbread House||Teach Sinséir|
|North Pole||An Mol Thuaidh|
|Plum Pudding||Maróg Pluma|
|Sleigh Bells||Cloigíní Sleigh|
|Season’s Greetings||Beannachtaí An Tséasúir|
|December 25||25 Nollaig|
|Christmas Card||Cárta Nollag|
|St. Nicks||Naomh Nicks|
|Santa’s Workshop||Ceardlann Santa|
|Father Christmas||Athair Na Nollag|
|Christmas Eve||Oíche Nollag|
|Jack Frost||Jack Frost|
Here are some ways in which you can use these words to make Irish sentences to flex your vocabulary while talking to a native Irish speaker:
|Sentences In English||Sentences In Irish|
|Christmas is on 25th December.||Tá an Nollaig ar an 25ú Nollaig.|
|Do you celebrate Christmas?||An gceiliúrann tú an Nollaig?|
|Would you like to light a candle in the window?||Ar mhaith leat coinneal a lasadh san fhuinneog?|
|Are you waiting for Santa Claus?||An bhfuil tú ag fanacht le Santa Claus?|
|I have to go buy Christmas gifts.||Caithfidh mé dul chun bronntanais Nollag a cheannach.|
|Do you need some Christmas cards?||An bhfuil roinnt cártaí Nollag uait?|
|What is your favorite tradition on Christmas eve?||Cén traidisiún is fearr leat ar an oíche roimh an Nollaig?|
|Let’s decorate the house.||Déanaimis an teach a mhaisiú.|
|Can you decorate the Christmas tree?||An féidir leat an crann Nollag a mhaisiú?|
|I wish to get a car this Christmas.||Is mian liom carr a fháil an Nollaig seo.|
|Do you want to build a snowman?||Ar mhaith leat fear sneachta a thógáil?|
|Christmas caroling is my favorite Christmas tradition.||Is é carúl na Nollag an traidisiún Nollag is fearr liom.|
|I am sorry, I can’t swim.||Tá brón orm, ní féidir liom snámh.|
|These children look beautiful.||Tá cuma álainn ar na páistí seo.|
|You sing really well.||Canann tú go han-mhaith.|
|I would like to give some charity.||Ba mhaith liom carthanas éigin a thabhairt.|
|Are you collecting donations?||An bhfuil tú ag bailiú síntiús?|
|Christmas is a time of blessings and happiness.||Is tréimhse beannachtaí agus sonas í an Nollaig.|
|I spend Christmas time with my friends.||Caithim am na Nollag le mo chairde.|
|May you be as contented as Christmas finds you.||Go mbeifeá chomh sásta agus a fhaigheann an Nollaig tú.|
|The cheer and good-will of friends to you.||Gáire agus dea-thoil na gcairde duit.|
|May your life be full of happiness.||Go mbeadh do shaol lán de sonas.|
“Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit” and “Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Daoibh” are two of the most significant new year greetings in Irish. Remember the duit and daoibh rule? The same applies here as well. It is important to remember these grammar rules since an Irish speaker could misinterpret you if you are using the wrong form.
I hope by now you are a pro in celebrating Christmas in Irish style using Christmas greetings in Irish. For more Irish lessons, feel free to check out other blogs on Ling App. We also have a blog on Irish Pronouns and Disasters In Irish.
May you have a prosperous and happy Christmas!