Thursday, December 15, 2011

What are the differences between America and Ireland at Christmas?

I am asked this question a lot, so I thought I would blog a wee entry and attempt an answer...what are the differences between Christmas in America and Christmas in Northern Ireland? What makes Christmas on each side of the Atlantic unique? Are there any similarities? What weird things do Irish people do at this time of year that Americans don't..or vice versa?  :-)

Well, firstly, you actually may be surprised to learn that the cultures are quite similar. The pop culture part of Christmas in America and in the UK and Ireland is the very same. The north pole, elves, snowmen, red nosed reindeer, strange bearded men in red suits invading your home through the chimney, that sort of thing. Yes, that's all the very same. The stores all have the same marketing gimmicks, the TV commercials are all quite what are the differences I here you cry? Well, below is a few (with my tongue firmly in cheek!):
  • Irish people eat turkey and goose for Christmas dinner
Yes, because there is no Thanksgiving feasting a few short weeks before Christmas, Irish people all generally eat large stuffed turkeys at Christmas, unlike many of their of American cousins who are thoroughly sick of the large gobbling bird by the time December rolls around.
  • underwhelming Christmas decorating
In Northern Ireland the vast majority of families put a Christmas tree up in their living rooms. but that's it!
Hard to believe eh? No Griswold style home lighting theatrics, no lighted reindeer in the garden, no inflatable snowmen, just a sad little tree in the living room. (Pathetic! I hear you cry!)

Of course in America the outdoor lighting is becoming quite spectacular, and fascinating...just like the photo above that I took in my neighborhood tonight. Our very creative neighbors put together a winter wonderland complete with glistening reindeer drinking by a blue lighted stream...superb indeed!
  • Christmas crackers, silly hats and terrible jokes
Yes, those wonderful British Christmas crackers are a vital part of any Christmas dinner in Northern Ireland, followed by the wearing of those silly paper hats and renditions of the worst jokes ever!
  • Brandy fueled Christmas pudding
This is a nice one, but in many Irish and British homes, the final ending to the Christmas meal is the presentation of the Christmas pudding where a spoonful of heated brandy is lit and poured over the delicacy to great effect!
  • Christmas is called Christmas
OK, this one sounds funny, but it's true. The UK is a very diverse country, but somehow Christmas is called Christmas and all the PC gymnastics don't exist over there.
  • The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day, and St. Stephens Day
In America the day after Christmas is...well, nothing but the 26th, whereas in Northern Ireland this day is very special. It's Boxing Day! A big day for sporting events (soccer games) enjoyed with lashings of left over turkey! In the Republic of Ireland the day has a slightly religious touch being St. Stephan's day...
  • Irish people actually like fruit cake
Hard to believe, I know...but the American Christmas cookie thing didn't make it across the pond. Over there Santa is offered fruit cake in compensation for his amazing feats!
  • The Queen's speech
Oh yes, at 3pm or so all stops to listen to what dear old Liz has to say. Actually, this is quite a nice thing. The Queen normally has interesting things to say in that wonderful clipped accent she has...then it's back to the turkey!
  • No eggnog
Irish people generally don't know what this is, so cousin Eddie would be drinking sherry in Ireland from his silly glass...not eggnog.
  • ...and lastly, the Christmas sweater is not a joke!
Yup, Irish people spend 9 months of the year wearing sweaters (or jumpers, as they're called) so, strange designs are not uncommon!

OK, I could go on and on...but that's it. Remember, this is just a bit of  'tongue-in-cheek' fun, so please excuse me!

Hope your Christmas plans are coming together, and look out for a fantastic recipe idea I am planning to make your Christmas dinner special, which I will be posting shortly, so stay tuned!...and as a reminder of the joy of the seasons I'm posting a fun photo of my youngest son in front of the Christmas tree on our porch. This joy is what it's all about!

Festive blessings to you and yours!
Judie the Irish Foodie!

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog... I'm so glad I did too!

    I just returned from a trip to Ireland (Dublin area... we just didn't have enough time to get up to Northern Ireland) and I loved it! Hearing your perspective on the cultures is fascinating!

    Also, on this posting I wanted to make a quick note that *some* Americans like the fruitcake too. Every Christmas my husband and I make fruitcake for gifts, which was usually accompanied by the usual cookie. This year they only wanted the fruitcake. (see my blog for a fruitcake posting.)

    Looking forward to reading more from you!


Feel free to leave me a comment on the food, or any other aspect of Irishness. Enjoy!