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World Advent Calendar

by Mandy Barrow

Christmas Jokes | British Christmas | London Topic | Project Britain | Homework Help

homeDay 16


Why are candles placed in the windows of Irish homes on Christmas Eve?

















Children in Ireland, light candles in their windows on Christmas Eve to guide Mary and Joseph to shelter.
With thanks to Eoghan, Peter and Feidhlim Deering in Ireland, for providing the information on this page.

On 24 December some Irish children put out sacks, socks or stockings, and some put empty pillow cases on the ends of their beds. In our house our presents are left under the Tree. We leave Father Christmas mince pies and milk beside the fireplace, with a carrot for the reindeer. If you've been naughty, Santa doesn't leave presents, he leaves a lump of coal.

Christmas is called "Nollag" (pronounced "noll-ug")

The greeting "Merry Christmas" is "Nollag Shona".
(N.B. There is no 'i' in Nollag)

Father Christmas is called "Deaide na Nollag".

After dinner on Christmas Eve, the table is cleared and reset with bread, milk and a lit candle. This is know as the Laden Table. The door is left unlocked so Mary and Joseph may come in and partake of the food left for them.

Like many other Christians, Irish children perform Nativity Plays, and Christian families put up a Christmas Crib by their front door, with figurines of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, shepherds and kings.

An Irish Christmas Dinner is similar to an English one, including turkey with chestnut stuffing, baked ham, roast potatoes and sprouts.

In Ireland, 26th December is known as "St Stephen's Day" rather than "Boxing Day", and is famous for its "Wren Boys".

Many years ago the Wren Boys would go out on St Stephen's Day, catch a wren and kill it by throwing stones at it, just as St Stephen was stoned to death. Then they would blacken their faces with a burnt cork, tie the dead wren to a pole and parade around the town with it, singing and knocking at all the houses in hopes for coins, gifts or food.

There are lots of "Wren Boys" songs, but the one we know is:

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds
On St Stephen's Day was caught in the furze,
We hunted him far and hunted him near
And found him under the bushes here.
Hurrah, my boys, hurrah!
Hurrah, my boys, hurrah!
Knock at the knocker and ring at the bell,
And give us a copper for singing so well.

Now-a-days the "Wren Boys" just go round in fancy dress (usually the men wear women's dresses and wigs), carrying a stuffed bird in a cage, singing carols and collecting money for charity.

9 days till Christmas!

Wow, Christmas is getting very close now.
Have you decorated your Christmas tree yet?

 Can you name all of the reindeers?
You can find a list of their names on our Christmas Facts page


Advent Calendar

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website.
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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