We Irish are fond of enjoying a drink or two. We also tend to be quite verbose and jocular. The obvious combination of these two traits is the wonderful ability to toast our family and friends. To that end, Lynnrockets would like to propose an Irish Christmas toast to all you fellow Rocketeers (now would be a great time to raise your glass of spirit):
“The light of the Christmas star to you, The warmth of home and hearth to you, The cheer and good will of friends to you, The hope of a childlike heart to you, The joy of a thousand angels to you, The love of the Son and God’s peace to you.”
Did you know that “Holly and Holly Wreaths” were Irish traditions? No Irish home would be complete without the holly. Holly grows wild in Ireland and is used to decorate the entire house. The Celtics (the early Irish settlers and not the basketball team) believed holly represented life and rebirth. The evergreen leaves symbolized life during a time when all else was bare and the red berries represented the coming of Spring. With the coming of Christianity to Ireland the berries took on a new meaning, new life in Christ. One charming folklore says holly is put out as a kind gesture to tiny fairies who might use it as a hiding place to come in out of the cold. Holly wreaths as a door decoration can be traced to North American Irish immigrating to the US during the Great Potato Famine.
The ancient Celts believed that mistletoe had healing powers. Its powers were so great that its presence encourage a brief truce among enemies. Hence the Victorian era custom of kissing under the mistletoe.
Window candles as part of Christmas decoration are Irish too! Candles in the window date back to ancient time’s laws of hospitality towards strangers. To have a light in your window on Christmas Eve to welcome the stranger meant that you were welcoming the Holy Family too. To have no light meant that you shared the guilt of the Innkeeper at Bethlehem who said, “No Room”!
If you are up to the challenge, you might try this Christmas toast in native Irish:
“Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi shonas duit.”
It means “A prosperous and happy Christmas to you.”
So there you have it. A little Irish Christmas history.
No in depth post today. Just my all time favorite Holiday Season song, “Sleigh Ride” by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. Lynnrockets wishes all of you and yours a very Merry Christmas!