Galway Continental Christmas Market 2013
I didn’t think I would ever get into the Christmas spirit this year but the past week has surprised me. It has been hard at times but to be honest it has been far better than I had anticipated. I enjoyed it….and of course felt guilty about enjoying it for a while but I’m not going to reflect on that.
The truth is I have always loved Christmas in Cork.
There are so many reasons why Christmas in Ireland but today here are 5 of my top reasons.
1. Finishing Up
At some point in November at my 9-5 we all start talking about ‘finishing up.’ Everyone wants to know when everyone else is ‘finishing up’ for Christmas. When you get into the second week of December the evenings leaving work are filled with someone in the office wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas & New Year as they skip out of the office for the holidays. Even though I wasn’t even in work this time I loved getting texts from my colleagues telling me when they were ‘finishing up.’ As much as I was up to it I tried to meet friends for a drink or a coffee as they finished. We got out our 2014 calendar the other day and the King and I are already talking about when I hope to ‘finish up’ next year.
2. December 8th
As any good practising Catholic knows the 8th of December is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In Cork it is traditionally the day the people in the country travel to the city to do their Christmas shopping (after mass of course). It is the official start to Christmas time in this house. While we always decorate on December 1st, the 8th is when we start to crack open the ‘Christmas press’ where we have stashed all the goodies (i.e., chocolates, biscuits, mulled wine, etc) when visitors come to call. And they will call all month long.
3. The Gift of Time
We buy very few gifts for people outside the family. Aside from teachers and a few people who went above and beyond for us, or just needed a special gift this Christmas we just don’t exchange gifts with our friends. We do however make it a point to be with and see as many people as possible over this festive time. The days are busy with visitors, lunches, coffees, and evening drinks but it’s connecting with people we love that the business of life sometimes keeps us from that this time is about for us.
This is a huge change from my Christmases back home….I would often give gifts and sometimes spend very little time with my friends. I imagine this is because Americans tend to have less time off and are busy with their families of course.
4. The Holiday Parties
I know that most places have the obligatory work Christmas party both in Ireland and the US but to be honest I love it here. Although I didn’t attend this year either the King or I had a holiday party every week from the 29th of November. There are work parties, I have team parties for the teams I am on at the 9-5 and then both our jobs have kid friendly family parties.
5. Santa is an Event
In Ireland you have to start early to do your research and book your trip to Santa. There are countless Santa experiences around Cork that are amazing. Although costlier (anything from 20 euro per family or PER CHILD) they usually entail a half hour to hour long visit to a Santa wonderland of sorts which of course ends with a visit to the Mr and Mrs himself complete with a photo and gift! It hands down beats the mall experience of Santa back home. Although while we were home in November we did visit Santa at Destiny, USA with the cousins and I have to admit in the eyes of my 3 year old Princess the only thing that matters is the man himself!!!!!!
Now don’t get me wrong, I miss Christmas at home. Christmas dinner just isn’t the same to me here and lets face it as someone who grew up with White Christmases each year it’s never the same without snow. The King and I have also worked hard to combine our traditions. There are plenty of home baked Christmas cookies in our Christmas press, and our gingerbread house is made. But the fact is, its the 28th of December and it is still very much Christmas time here until at least the 2 January.