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Christmas Day in Ireland

Christmas Day (Lá Nollag) is a time for people in the Republic of Ireland to celebrate the birth of Jesus with family members and close friends. They often do this by visiting special church services and eating a festive meal.

Is Christmas Day a Public Holiday?

Christmas Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Christmas Day is a joyous occasion for family and friends to come together, share gifts and enjoy each other's company.

©iStockphoto.com/Chris Schmidt

What Do People Do?

Many people observe Christmas Day by attending special church service, which are often held at sunrise or in the early morning. They then spend the rest of the day at home with family members and close friends. Christmas dinner is a formal meal. It is often served in the early afternoon and is a highlight of the Christmas period. Common foods include:

  • Roast goose, chicken, duck, pheasant or turkey.
  • Boiled or smoked ham.
  • Spiced beef.
  • Stuffing.
  • Gravy.
  • Roast, mashed or boiled potatoes.
  • A range of vegetables, including carrots, turnips and Brussels sprouts.

After the main meal has been cleared away, people often eat trifle or Christmas pudding with rum sauce and brandy butter.

Public Life

Public life is generally quiet on Christmas Day. Banks, post offices and many other businesses and organizations are closed. A few stores and pubs are open for a limited number of hours. Public transport service schedules vary. In many areas, there is no public transport.

Background

Mid-winter festivals were held in Ireland for thousands of years. Celtic rituals included lighting fires to tempt the Sun back to the Earth and holding feasts and parties. Many of these rituals are now reflected in the Christian celebrations of Jesus' birth.

Christmas Day in Ireland has been a traditional day of rest and Christian worship for hundreds of years. For this reason, people were not generally expected to work on December 25. The Holidays (Employees) Act 1961 confirmed that Christmas Day was a public holiday. If Christmas Day when falls on a Sunday, the public holiday moves to Tuesday, December 27. 

Symbols

Christmas crackers consist of cardboard tubes wrapped in brightly colored pieces of crepe or tissue paper. They generally contain a small gift, a joke or motto, a paper hat and a banger. The banger is a chemically impregnated card strip that makes a bang when it is pulled apart. Crackers are often pulled before or during the main meal on Christmas Day. However, they may also be part of birthday and wedding celebrations.

About Christmas Day in other countries

Read more about Christmas Day.

Christmas Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010SatDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2011SunDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2012TueDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2013WedDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2014ThuDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2015FriDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2016SunDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2016TueDec 27Christmas Day observedNational holiday
2017MonDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2018TueDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2019WedDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday
2020FriDec 25Christmas DayNational holiday

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