NOLLAIG SHONA DUIT (Happy Christmas) from the Irish Gallery

Lighted Tallow Candles in the Front Windows

These candles represent hospitality to visitors and traditionally symbolize hospitality to Mary and Joseph. In Ireland when they didn't have enough candles they would use what we call today rutabagas and the Irish called turnips to hold the candles.

Christmas Eve Supper

After the simple meatless Christmas Eve supper was finished the door would be left unlatched overnight and the kitchen table reset with a loaf of bread, a pitcher of milk and a large lit candle. This was called the laden table.

Irsh Homes ready for Christmas

As in other traditional cultures, the homes would be thoroughly cleaned and in olden times whitewashed in preparation for Christmas. The earliest decorations were holly but also laurel and ivy thus allowing the poor to decorate their dwellings. The holly in the inside of the house would make the fairies welcome and be sheltered from the cold. The sharply pointed holly would be placed around the doors to keep the evil spirits away.

Christmas Crib:
The Christmas Crib or nativity scene is another important part of Christmas celebrating in Ireland. The figures of the museum's crib were cast of stone in Ireland in a style reminiscent of the stone crosses and figures from early days of Christianity in Ireland. This is a must to see in this gallery.