Christmas is a great time to be in Ireland! We love the holiday spirit and really embrace the celebrations, with many customs that have been carried on in the country for generations. If this will be your first Irish Christmas, or if you just want to learn more about how we celebrate here, we prepared a complete guide with the most common Christmas traditions in Ireland:
Twelve pubs of Christmas
This is the favorite way Irish people get ready for Christmas and celebrate the holiday season with their friends. The Twelve Pubs of Christmas consists of a pub crawl for - you guessed right - twelve pubs in one single night. The idea is to have one drink in each bar, but you can also add some fun by implementing different rules for every pub. For example, in the third pub, no one is allowed to call one another by their names, only nicknames. Many bars around the country will be decorated for the season and you will likely find other groups of people playing the game too.
Here’s a list of some pubs around Dublin’s city center that you can visit for your Twelve Pubs of Christmas:
1. The Stags Head
2. Temple Bar
3. The Porterhouse
4. The Bar With No Name
6. The Duke’s
7. The Long Hall
9. The Hairy Lemon
10. Kehoes Pub
11. J Grogan
#FreeTip: You can buy tickets for the Pub Crawl at our reception (free beer + free shots + club free ticket + discounts)
Mince pies & Christmas Pudding
As in every country, Ireland also has some traditional dishes that are only available during this time of the year. Two of the most popular are the Christmas Pudding, which has the texture of a cake but is steamed for hours and served hot with custard and Brandy, and the Mince Pies, small pastries filled with a delicious mix of apples, spices, currants, and sugar. These two treats are served every Christmas in most Irish houses, but you can also find them in local bakeries, cafes, and supermarkets around the country.
Leaving Guinness for Santa
Guinness is Ireland’s national treasure, and of course, Santa is getting some of it! It’s a tradition in many households around Ireland to leave a pint of Guinness for Santa on Christmas night, accompanied by some mince pies. Some families prefer to prepare baby Guinness, another local drink made with Kahlúa and Bailey’s - definitely worth trying even if you are not Santa Claus.
Christmas decoration competitions
Some towns around Ireland have Christmas decoration contests around this time of the year, as well as some neighborhoods in Dublin. Irish people really take it seriously and invest in incredible decorations for their houses, which brings to holidays spirits even more alive. Usually, the winner is chosen by the city council group in charge of the competition or by the locals themselves. If you are visiting Ireland during this time of the year, take some time to walk around the neighborhood where you are staying and see some really cool decorations everywhere.
The Christmas Swim
As a tradition in Ireland for the past 40 years, the Christmas Swim takes place on Christmas day, with many events happening around the coast of the country. The idea is to support local charities and fundraisings by going into the freezing sea for a few minutes. Every year you will find many people gathering together at some Irish beaches on the 25th of December to either go for the swim or watch the ones who choose to get in. If you decide to attend, make sure to bring some hot drinks and warm clothes with you, most spots will also be offering food and beverages to participants.
Which of these traditions are you most excited to experience this year?
We hope you will enjoy all of them! Happy Christmas :)