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holidays:
It's considered bad luck to take down holiday decorations before "Little Women's Christmas"

A Christmas candle in the window, still popular not just in Ireland but here in the US, was long displayed as a symbol of hospitality (though Ireland never had a rule quite as strident as Scotland's first footing, the New Year's tradition dictating that one had to take in and lavishly entertain the very first person to enter one's home after midnight). Window candles in Ireland were a symbol that the homeowner would welcome the Holy Family unlike the inn keeper in Bethlehem who bore the guilt of having turned them away. During times of intolerance for Catholicism in Ireland, window candles also were meant to announce that it was safe to say mass in a home.
Notes: A Welcoming Candle

Leaving a mince pie and a bottle of Guinness out on Christmas Eve was once popular in Ireland. It was meant to be a snack for Santa Claus.

Ancient Celts believed that mistletoe had tremendous healing powers. Christians saw it as such a strong symbol of paganism, in fact, that they banned it until the so-called revival of Christmas in the Victorian era.

On December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, virtually all schools in Ireland are closed for the day.

Pantomimes are still performed by small groups of amateurs and professional actors alike in the days following Christmas. Irish pantos are humorous productions of Cinderella, Snow White and other familiar fairytales. In them, men frequently play the part of women and vice versa. Generally, there's a great deal of singing and dancing, with jokes making fun of eminent politicians or celebrities thrown in.

Children in Ireland are accustomed to finding presents left by Santa in their bedrooms, often in a sack at the foot of the bed. An occasional big gift may be left under the Christmas tree, but it's usually unwrapped.

The Irish Christmas Tree Growers association, which has a goal of fostering the production of "real" Christmas trees in Ireland, has about 100 members. Those of us who've virtually never seen a tree in Ireland are interested to know that the Christmas tree group is actually an outgrowth of the Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA).

a Roman feast dedicated to the god Saturn, was celebrated on December 17th in pre-Christian times. Some historians believe the holiday was adopted by Christians throughout Europe in the fourth century, and turned into a commemoration of Christ's birth. The date was changed to December 25th to coincide with the winter solstice on the Roman or "Julian" calendar. A number of old pagan holidays were "Christianized" in this way (All Hallows day is another), because the Church wanted to adopt holidays people were already celebrating widely. A Roman practice of cutting down an evergreen tree on Saturnalia may be the origin of the modern day Christmas tree.
Notes: Christmas' Roman origin?

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