In many ways, the ways we celebrate Christmas in Andover, NY looks a lot different than how St. Patrick and his neighbors may have celebrated in the 4th century. However, there are still several Irish and American Christmas traditions rooted in Gaelic culture, like decorations, special customs, and cuisine that our family at Walker Metalsmith's celebrate during the season.
Holly is one of the main plants that flourish during the winter season. It is believed to bring happiness and eternal life. You can find it anywhere, which means there’s more than enough for families to fashion fresh holly into a ring and place it on the front door like a wreath. When picking holly, look for well-colored leaves with ripe berries. Holly is sensitive, so avoid exposing it to direct heat from the sunlight.
There’s always a big debate about when to put up or take down Christmas. According to Celtic traditions, the official date to take down all Christmas decorations is January 6th. What happens if you decide to start cleaning early? It’s considered bad luck to take decorations down earlier.
On Christmas Eve, families place a lit candle in the window. The reason has to do with the story of Mary and Joseph and when they had to search for lodging right before Jesus’s birth. The candle is supposed to represent a beacon that signified a safe place for Mary and Joseph to rest. It was also a common sign for priests to know they were welcome. After attending, Catholic mass on Christmas Eve, families will typically return home. Sometimes, they’ll open one special gift the night before, like a hand-crafted Celtic necklace, if they can’t wait until the next morning.
We can thank St. Patrick for bringing Christianity and Christmas to Ireland back in the 4th century. Once families have had the evening meal, it’s time for “The Laden Table,” another tradition to prepare the home for Mary and Joseph. Families typically reset the table with special objects, each with their own significance.
Did any of these traditions sound familiar? If not, this year is an excellent time to
start making new memories. Shopping for gifts like a hand-crafted Celtic cross, is so easy. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the couch!
If you’re having a socially distanced holiday break, you can always have Celtic jewelry delivered directly to a special someone. Schedule a Zoom call later to say “hello” face to face. If you’re like most of us and you have family members scattered all over the globe, make sure to double-check different time zones, so you’re meeting a time that works best for everyone. Your family can all meet virtually to light the candle in the window on Christmas Eve!
From our family here at Walker’s Metalsmith, we’d like to wish you a “Happy Holidays!” Make sure to check back in shortly for more fun facts about Celtic traditions and modern handmade jewelry.
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