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Tara, Chrissie and Keira
Carnaun Seniors, Ireland


Christmas in Ireland

We celebrate Christmas in Ireland because Jesus our Saviour was born on Christmas day. It is a time of Celebration and feasting.

We get our school Christmas holidays this year on the 22nd of December. We go back to school on the 10th of January. We love putting up Christmas decorations in school. We have a huge crib that we put up every year. Near when we get the Christmas holidays we have a Christmas mass. We invite friends and family to the mass in the school and have an open day where we show the visitors the good work we have done during the term. This year our project "I eat, therefore I am" done with 12 other schools in different parts of Europe will be the highlight of the day. The visitors will have tea and cake and we will have a great time.

Christmas is a very busy time at home. Everyone is busy preparing. We put up our Christmas decorations on the 9th of December. We bring in fir trees because it is a custom. But it was not the Irish people who started the custom but people from Germany thought of it. They thought since the every green tree never dies they thought that if they brought in a tree which never dies they would never die. That's where the custom comes from. The tree used is usually the Noble Fir because it doesn't shed leaves. Holly is also hung up around the house - and people love to get holly with berries.
Mistletoe is hung over the door in the front hall and the custom is that couples kiss whenever they are under the mistletoe.

Christmas is a time of celebration and feasting!
We love to go Christmas shopping. Mammy cooks the Christmas Pudding and bakes the Christmas cake long before the holidays. The ingredients for those include lots of fruit and sweet things. Mince pies are another favourite for this time of the year and I love hot mince pies with cream.

Christmas Eve is a very busy day in our house, especially in the kitchen with Mammy preparing the Christmas dinner and we love to help her. She cooks a huge ham and plucks, cleans out and stuffs a 8kg turkey. We also have a variety of vegetables, brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots and parsnips. The potatoes are boiled and then mashed in butter, onions and milk. For starters we have melon with brown sugar - YUM! YUM!
We tidy the house and very early in the morning when the smaller children wake up we open the presents that we get from friends and family. Mammy and I sometimes go to midnight mass and when we get back Dad has a candle lighted in the window. It is beautiful to see all the candles in the windows of the houses in the countryside. I always leave some milk and cake beside the chimney for Santa (as he always comes down the chimney) and also leave carrots and hay in the back yard for all his reindeers.

Christmas day is a family day. After dinner our family relaxes around the big fire in the living room. The timber in the Christmas fire is called the "Yule Log" and Christmas time is called "Yule time" We watch T.V. or plays board games. Usually we play with the Christmas toys. Last year I got some Barbie dolls and some board games.

After dinner we go down to the farmyard to feed our horses, cattle and sheep. We love to sit on a bale of hay in the barn and listen to the animals eating. It is so warm and peaceful there and so near to heaven I think. This year we may have some lambs for Christmas!

The day after Christmas is called St Steven's Day. He was the first Christian martyr. In some parts if the country children go from house to house with a wren (a bird) in a box. They say a rhyme:
"The wren, the wren the king of all birds,
St Steven's day he was caught in the furze,
Up with the kettle and down with the pan.
Give us some money to bury the wren".
The people of the house then give some money to the children. People also dress up as "straw boys" or "mummers" and go from house to house or pub to pub singing and dancing and the people give them lots of money. In our house we usually ride out on our ponies to the hunt.

We get a huge amount of Christmas cards wishing us a "Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year". In our school we send our Christmas greetings to our friends by email!

By Tara, Chrissie and Keira 6th. Class Carnaun School Ireland