Irish homes are thoroughly washed in preparation for Christmas. Children go to nearby lanes and woods to gather holly, laurel and ivy to decorate the interior of the home.

Two important Christmas Eve traditions in the 1840's were started to offer symbolic hospitality to Mary and Joseph and possible actual hospitality to a wandering traveler. A lighted tallow candle would be placed in the front window of the home. Sometimes a turnip would be used to hold the candle if not enough candleholders. After a simple meatless Christmas Eve supper the kitchen table would be reset with a loaf of bread with carawy seeds and raisins, a pitcher of milk, and a large lit candle. This was called the laden table.

The door would be unlatched overnight. The burning candles in the window and laden table would indicate hospitality.

After Mass, Christmas Day  was a time for feasting with roast goose and often vegetables from the garden. A Christmas cake made in advance could be a nice addition. A Christmas Creche was most always present in the home. The museum Irish Gallery displays a stone creche, laden table, and the gallery is decorated with holly and mistletoe too. 

Enjoy a view into Irish Christmas traditions with a visit to this Irish Gallery of the Ethnic Heritage Museum.