What are some Irish traditions?

What are some Irish traditions?


Ireland is a land Steeped in Traditions

Ireland is a land with a deep history. Many of the folklore, traditions, practices and celebrations live on today and touch each stage of life and seasons throughout the year. Many of these traditions are observed today, either as a nod to history and heritage or with the faith that the traditions still hold weight. Some of these traditions have traveled as people of Ireland have moved to other countries and continue to keep practices of their old country alive or adapt traditions to their new homeland.

There are many traditions and celebrations that have to do with their religion, however many of the practices and traditions followed in Ireland date back to Celtic origins or even before. While pagan holidays are openly observed, many have blended with Christianity and observe the old and new equally.

Seasonal Celebrations

Each season has its own celebration. February 1 marks the beginning of spring, known as Imbolc or St. Brigid's Day and the Brigid's Day Cross is the symbol of the day. The early spring day celebrated with a large feast.

Bealtaine is observed on May 1 or May Day and marks the start of summer. This holy day was celebrated with bonfires, although, today's May Day fairs are held all over Ireland where farmers and artisans set up shop to sell their goods.

Midsummer is marked on June 23, the day of the summer solstice. Bonfires are lit and greeted with song and dance on this, the longest day of the year.

The start of the harvest is marked by Lughnasa on August 1. This day honors the Celtic god of Lugh. Traditionally Lughnasa was a time for hand-fasting, a Gaelic form of a "trial marriage" that would last a year and a day before an official marriage. Today the day is celebrated with bonfires, reunions and dancing.

The autumnal equinox marks the collection of the harvest with a cornucopia in hopes that winter will be plentiful with the crop stores; it's commemorated on September 21.

While many Americans celebrate Halloween over the course of a single night, in Ireland, October 31 (Samhain) and November 1 (La na Marbh) comprise the two-day holiday of Oiche Shamhna. The two are observed similarly to Halloween and the Day of the Dead or All Soulds Day.

The seasonal observances commence for the year with the winter solstice, which occurs between December 21 and December 23. While there are local celebrations, many people sojourn to Meath, Ireland to watch the sunrise over an ancient burial ground.

Life Stages

There are many Irish beliefs and traditions around pregnancy and birth. One that is likely most practiced today is that a pregnant woman will wear a medal of their patron saint for protection from evil. Many women choose the St. Brigid cross or St. Elizabeth medals.

Sharing an Irish prayer is very common at the birth of a child, a wedding and other occasions.

While there are many traditions that have been handed down for generations, one that is more recent is sports. Football rules in Ireland, and many are quite passionate. Show your support for team and country with a hoodie, T-shirt or jersey - as hockey is another recent athletic favorite.