New Year's Day (Lá Caille or Lá Bliana Nua) is the first day of the Gregorian calendar used in Ireland. People generally spend the day quietly with family members or close friends. However, there are New Year's parades in some areas.
Is New Year's Day a Public Holiday?
New Year's Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
In 2023, it falls on a Sunday, and some businesses may choose to follow Sunday opening hours.
What Do People Do?
Many people spend New Year's Day quietly with family members and close friends. This is particularly true if they attended New Year's Eve celebrations that lasted into the early hours of January 1. Others go walking in the hills or along beaches to mark the start of the New Year. New Year's dips are organized in many coastal towns. These are short swims in the cold waters of the Irish Sea or Atlantic Ocean.
New Year's Day parades are held in some villages, towns and cities. A large parade is held in Dublin. Marching bands, musicians and other groups walk through the city's streets. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. Parades in smaller towns and villages may concentrate on local events, anniversaries in the coming year, or be more religious or spiritual.
Public life is generally quiet on New Year's Day. Banks, post offices and many other businesses and organizations are closed. Some stores and pubs are open, although they may open later and close earlier than usual. Public transport service schedules vary depending on where one lives and intends to travel. There may be some local disruption to traffic if roads are closed for New Year's parades.
If a public holiday in Ireland falls on a Saturday or Sunday, many people get the following Monday off, although this is not guaranteed by law. Employers may also opt for alternative ways of compensating their workers, such as granting a paid day off within one month of the public holiday, an extra day of annual leave, or an additional day's pay.
Winter celebrations have been held in Ireland for thousands of years. These marked the end of the fall (autumn) harvest season and the return of the Sun after the darkest part of the year. People celebrated by holding feasts, social events and lighting fires to bring light into the dark.
New Year's Day was recognized as a church holiday in the Holidays (Employees) Act 1961 in the Republic of Ireland. It became a public holiday following the Holidays (Employees) Act 1973. The public holiday was first observed in 1974.