Only the hardiest go for a swim on Christmas morning, the rest of us shudder in solidarity when we watch the inevitable report on the six o’clock news. The 40 Foot is the famous bathing spot in Dublin Bay — most famous for skinny dipping! — but the brave Christmas swimmers usually cling to anything that might keep them a little warmer, and at least one person goes in wearing the full Santa suit!
If you visit anyone over the holidays, you bring a tin of biscuits or a bottle of something (or both, if the old employment situation is good). Tins of biscuits are something you only see at Christmas, and there are no plain biscuits in the box! Few Irish are born without a very sweet tooth!
If you’re not staying home to visit on Stephen’s Day, you may join the throng at Leopardstown Race Course in Dublin for the traditional St. Stephen’s Day races. Don’t worry if you can’t break any longstanding family engagements, however, the Christmas race meeting at Leopardstown actually lasts four days, so you have ample opportunity to enjoy the racing — and the hospitality tent! With all that Christmas cheer, we feel luckier than usual — not that we ever need much incentive to gamble!
Many families place a lit candle in the window at night on Christmas Eve to symbolize a welcome for the Holy family. It’s perhaps more of a Catholic tradition, but like many Christmas traditions, it’s one that is beginning to have a life apart from its religious origins.