Christmas in Ireland was even better than I imagined it would be. It was magical. As Christmas should be! I was lucky enough to be working right in the middle of the city during Christmas, so every night I would walk to the tram to get home and I would see all of Dublin lit up with lights and music and shoppers. Here are a few of those photos now. Most of them are taken from Grafton street, showing the actual street and window displays.
I also had to check out the Christmas market, which is held over Georges Dock.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the most exciting market. There weren't a lot of stalls, and there was almost no food. But I will say that one really good thing happened here: I had my first mulled wine and fell in love!
(Back to Grafton in the images below and above to the left)
Most of the decorations that I photographed were south of the Liffey. But there were also quite a few good ones north of the river! Henry Street definitely took the cake on that side.
Of course, we had to decorate our new home. We went out and got a Christmas tree and set to work.
Over time we picked up little bits and pieces to add on. More ornaments, more lights.
It ended up so cosy and Christmasy that now I can't bear to take it all down! While we were at home Killian and I went ice skating after his last day of work. It's definitely not as big of a thing here, so it was really fun to get out and feel like a kid again for a bit!
After that we went back to his parents' home where we stayed when I first got here for the rest of the holidays. On Christmas morning we went to mass, and though these pictures were taken the night before, this was the church that we were in:
I didn't get to grab a photo of the outside in the daylight because it was absolutely pouring rain Christmas morning. The road turned into a river and we were puddle-hopping to get inside where it was dry. But I did find this image online, so you can kind of get an idea of what it looks like.
I also took a bunch of pictures of the house and all of the decorations that Killian's mom put up. It looked absolutely beautiful! These candle arches are very popular in Ireland for Christmas. Lights on the outside of the house aren't as popular/the same as they are in America. But that's also probably because light strands are almost never connectable here. Which makes long strands of lights along the roof of a house much more difficult.
Above you can see the beautiful tree. It spans the entire first floor and a little bit of the second floor. You can see the angel from the hall between the bedrooms upstairs. Below you can see my American contribution to the holidays: sugar cookies! These are my favorite sugar cookies because they're nice and chewy and soft. Here's a few fun facts: sprinkles here are called hundreds-and-thousands, and aren't super big. You'll kind of find one variety pack in each store that contains the ones you see on the cookies below. Cream cheese doesn't come in bricks like butter. It comes in containers. So you'd use a container of original Philadelphia to spread on your bagel and bake with. Powdered sugar is icing sugar and baking soda is bicarbonate of soda. Food colouring comes in gel or paste form, not in liquids. I've also not found a bunch of variety on those yet! Basically red green blue. Cookies are called biscuits. They don't have the kind of biscuits we do- the fluffy bread kind. And sugar cookies are not big in Ireland. If there is anything similar, it's thin and crispy, so the big soft kind aren't a big hit here. But if you're American like me, and like big soft sugar cookies like me, see below for the treasured recipe!
Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the sour cream, then beat in one egg at a time until fully incorporated. Add in the extracts. In a separate bowl, sift together the baking soda, baking powder, and 1 cup of the flour. Slowly beat into the wet mixture. Add the remaining flour until you have a dough that doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and cutting. Bake for 7 minutes at 350º F. The cookie should be lightly brown on the bottom and set on top.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 6-7 cups flour
We had breakfast and lunch in the regular dining room, which had adorable Santa hat covers on the chairs. Breakfast was a traditional fry, which we have fairly regularly. It contains a fried egg, toast, bacon (rashers), sausages, tomatoes, tater tot style potatoes, and black pudding. Usually there's also mushrooms, but we didn't have any this time around. It's also served with tea, of course! Then since it was Christmas we also had pancakes. They're crepes, essentially. Thin, filled with your faves. We had syrup, sugar, and blueberries. Then you roll it up like a burrito and go for it!
The dinners were had in the sitting room, pictured below. This is also where we spent most of the social time. We watched movies, played games, and opened presents in this room.
As a starter we had goats cheese, pear, and walnut salad. For Christmas dinner we had turkey, ham, two types of stuffing, potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts. And for dessert we had fruit salad, trifle, and Christmas pudding. If there's one time that Ireland really fits the drinking stereotype, it's definitely Christmas! There's alcohol everywhere. Everyone always has a drink in hand (usually wine or mulled wine - see recipe below) and everything (and I mean everything) is cooked or baked in alcohol. It's pretty yummy. The Christmas pudding is kind of like the mince pies that we also had during the holidays, only one big kind of lump. It's dried fruit and eggs and alcohol and bread crumbs etc. Then alcohol is poured over the top and set on fire. When you're making it, the mixture is stirred counter-clockwise and you make a wish. Also, interesting fact: fruit cake is a thing here! It's still alive and well.
My last fun fact: the nativity is called the crib. At the end of Christmas mass, one piece of the straw in the church nativity is taken and put in the home crib.
Warm the wine (do not boil). Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated. Add in some orange slices for decoration, and enjoy!
- 1 bottle red wine
- 1 mulled wine sachet
- 1/2 bottle ginger ale
- 250 ml cranberry juice
- 1/2 bottle winterberry syrup
- Sugar to taste
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1 orange, sliced
Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year from Ireland!
I just realised that I forgot to add a timeline! Different days are celebrated here than they are in America. Traditionally, decorations are put up on the 8th of December. After Christmas Day is Stephen's Day on the 26th. Horse racing is typically followed on Stephen's Day. Then, 6 January is Women's Little Christmas, or just Women's Christmas. The ladies go out and celebrate together. It's also traditionally the day that decorations are taken down. And that's about it for Christmas in Ireland!