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22nd Dec 2016

6 European Christmas Traditions That Ireland Needs To Adopt Right Now


Christmas is probably one of the most traditional traditions us Irish still follow to a tee. 

The dinner never changes (hallelujah!) and nearly all of us sit down to a feast of turkey, ham, roast potatoes, stuffing and brussel sprouts. The presents get opened at various times throughout the wee hours of the morning, some earlier than others (we’re looking at you, 4am risers…) 

You go to Mass, you see your relatives, you watch the same Christmas films on the TV and gorge yourself on too much chocolate.

But sure what else would you be at on Christmas Day? Ever heard the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

But what if we could add to these wonderful traditions of ours, by taking inspiration from some of our European neighbours?

What exactly are those mainlanders up to for the festive season?

1. Spain 

In Spain, Christmas dinner is never eaten until after midnight of the 24th of December. It is a a huge family feast, where they enjoy great food and drinks, with the main event being Pavo Trufado de Navidad, which is turkey stuffled with truffles. Turkey and truffles? Music to our ears.

After the meal, family members gather around the Christmas tree and sing Christmas carols to the wee hours of the morning. As the old Spanish verse says…”Esta noche es Noche-Buena, Y no es noche de dormir”

This is the good night, therefore it is not meant for sleep.

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2. Norway

No cleaning on Christmas Eve.

Your parents might struggle with this one, because it seriously cuts into their time for preparing their house for visitors, but the Norwegians traditionally swear off any cleaning on Christmas Eve. This is definitely something that we could get behind…

All sweeping brushes and mops are supposed to be safely locked away, so that they aren’t stolen by witches and evil spirits. 


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3. Germany 

German children leave shoes outside their house on December 5, and wake to find them stuffed to the rim with sweets. We would definitely sign up for that.

However, it isn’t as straightforward as just getting a shoe full of sweets… Naughty children will sometimes find a tree branch in their shoe instead. Wouldn’t you be devastated?

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4. Estonia 

In Estonia, families usually head to the sauna together on Christmas Eve.

I love it; a family bonding sesh to sweat out all of those impurities, to really set you up for the next day of feasting.

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5. Italy 

On January 5, Italian children go to bed waiting for a magical being to bring presents, and it isn’t Santa Claus…

I’m talking about Italy’s answer to Saint Nick, La Befana.

She is said to resemble an old witch riding a broomstick, and is usually covered in soot because she enters homes through chimneys. Children will leave wine and food out for the Befana.

Pair this with Santa Claus and you’ve got twice the pressies!

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6. Wales

Christmas swims sound like a lovely thing, don’t they?

Every year, on Christmas Day, people from the town of Brigend, in South Wales, brave the icy sea waters while wearing their most ridiculous fancy-dress attire.

And it is usually a charity event in local charities, and what a better time to be charitable than on Christmas Day?

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So get to the sauna, and don’t forget to leave your shoe outside your front door!