School: Carnadough (B.), Newtowncashel

Cornadowagh, Co. Longford
P. Eustace

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Customs Observed at Christmas

Archival Reference

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0753, Page 322

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The custom of decorating our houses dates back to the birth of Our Saviour. When the first day of winter began to get long, the people celebrated the birthday of the sun. It was also the custom at that time for the people to burn big logs of wood on the hearths, and there was a special log called yule log at that time. The word yule itself meant the feast of the Sun. The people also at that time imagined that every greens had a special blessing attached to them and for that reason they were very fond of taking them indoors, and furthermore the plants that had fruit would bless them still more they thought, and for this reason they decorated their houses with holly, ivy, and mistletoe. The Druids used mistletoe at their religious ceremonies every Christmas and used to cut it up in sprigs and divide it among the people, who believed it kept away harm. Nowadays we observe this old custom. There is scarcely any family who does not decorate their houses. Holly is generally used for the purpose of decorating the house. It has a very nice polish and it looks very nice under the chirstmas lights. Ivy is nice mingled with holly at christmas. It does not stand erect like the holly, but droops and is a direct contrast to the holly. The holly or mistletoe it put up on christmas Eve and are not taken down until after the twelve days

Séan Ó Fearghail
Newtown Cashel, Co. Longford