Culture -

What’s Christmas like in Ireland? —

By Jasper Rutherford

Many American Christmas traditions are inherited from Ireland, so the reality is the way you celebrate Christmas is the way we celebrate Christmas with only some minor differences.

Americans do more lights on the outside of houses than we do, and another difference is we really celebrate Boxing Day in Northern Ireland – in the southern region it’s called St. Stephens Day.


It takes place on the day after Christmas and is a big sporting day. We go to football games – your soccer – or play a match with the family. You see families on walks or playing sports like rugby outside. It’s customary for old boys to play against young boys, and it’s good fun. It does get cold and if it snows a little, it’s great fun for the kids. But the most snow we might get would only be an inch or so. It’s crisp – as long as it’s not raining.


We always have a Christmas Eve party. There’s a big gathering of family at our home and we do a Secret Santa game where you get a number, and you can exchange or steal someone else’s present.


Many of the churches do midnight, candlelit Christmas services, which are lovely. And many participate in midnight Christmas carols on Christmas Eve.


Kids are off school, and a lot of the time is spent with family and friends, eating lots of food, playing games, having the fire on and watching old movies. We love “Home Alone,” and the kids love “The Santa Claus.”


There’s Christmas trees, presents, Advent calendars, Advent wreaths and the Christmas dinner is the big celebration with family and friends.


It’s a joyous time, and it’s lovely how Christ unites all differences across the world with love for each other and the Holy Spirit living in all of us.


From the CIY European team in Northern Ireland, Merry Christmas to you!


Jasper Rutherford is the European director for Christ In Youth. He and his family live in Belfast, Northern Ireland.