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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
When is it OK to start celebrating Christmas? Here is what the experts say*
*And by experts we mean the Catholic Church, shopping centres, the council and Dublin Airport.

IT IS AT this time of the year that decorations start going up and presents start being bought.

With Christmas less than eight weeks away, the build up to the holiday is poised to get into full swing.

As of yet, there have been no confirmed plays of a Fairytale of New York – but you can bet that the first one isn’t a long way off.

While the early marketing of Christmas is much derided each year, it can be confusing to know exactly when the festive season kicks off.

So we decided to find out.

When exactly is it OK to start celebrating Christmas?

The official version 

Taking it back to its religious root, the season in the liturgical calendar begins with Advent, something that you might be surprised to learn begins this year on 29 November.

shutterstock_154490453 Shutterstock / PixelDarkroom Shutterstock / PixelDarkroom / PixelDarkroom

Speaking to, a spokesperson for the Catholic Communications Office explained:

According to the Church’s liturgical reckoning, Christmas begins on the evening of 24th December and runs until the Sunday after the 6th January which is the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord.

What about the shops?

One of Dublin’s biggest Christmas institutions is department store Brown Thomas – and its definition of when Christmas begins throws out the mean for all other start dates.

Back in August, the high-end retailer launched its Christmas markets at its stores in Dublin, Cork, and Limerick.

As the store’s managing director Stephen Sealey explained to “It opens so early because it sells early.

Many of the pieces are unusual and exclusive, lot of interior designers, hotels, etc buy from us, and they buy early.

On the importance of Christmas, Sealey went on to say, “Christmas is a hugely important time for us. Customers know Brown Thomas is the place to come for that special gift. They love our gift-wrapping, and the magic of the Brown Thomas bag.”

IMG_6193 Brown Thomas The Brown Thomas Christmas displays for this year Brown Thomas

Decorations at the store will be going up over the coming week, with music starting to be played from the beginning of December.

While shopping centres may not all start decorating and playing music at the same time, it is something that they each put a bit of thought into.

The Jervis Centre told that decorating has been taking place over the past week and Christmas music will start being played on the 14th of this month.

And is there any particular reasoning behind this?

A spokesperson for the centre said:

Not particularly- it just follows on from past years.

What do the institutions say?

Dublin Airport, the scene of so many happy reunions, will be starting to put up its decorations towards the end of this month, with the airside retail area already adorned with baubles and tinsel.

A spokesperson for the airport told that last year these featured 88,000 LED energy-efficient fairy lights, 780 snowflakes, and more than 100 Christmas trees.

Music in the the two terminals will kick off on 14 December – but won’t be limited to pumping Slade and Wizzard out over the PA.

Rather, choirs and local schools will be present to perform songs and carols, something the spokesperson said is ”hugely popular with our customers every year”. 

The airport will also have extra staff on hand to help with increased demand during the holiday period. 

dublin airport Sam Boal / Dublin Airport at Christmas last year Sam Boal / /

Central to bringing Christmas to Dublin is a joint effort between Dublin City Council, Dublin Town and the Luas Cross City that has been called ‘Dublin at Christmas’. 

This effort was launched earlier this week on the centre of O’Connell Street with models outnumbering elves by a factor of two to one. 

The major dates in terms of lights being switched on by this initiative will be the 12, 15 and 29 November, when the lights will be turned on on Henry Street, Grafton Street and O’Connell Street respectively.

Dublin at Christmas Launch - 4.11.15 (42) Picasa The Dublin at Christmas launch earlier this week Picasa

So when is it ok to start celebrating Christmas?

So there you have it folks – the Christmas season begins some time between 1 November and Christmas eve.

Absolutely concrete.

But if we boil these figures down – can we come up with some sort of average date?

Taking all the dates featured in this article where institutions or shops put up their decorations, start playing their music or turn on their lights (although discounting the August opening date of Brown Thomas’ Christmas stores as that would throw things out massively) and averaging them out, the date that the Christmas season starts on is…

… 27 November.

So there you have it, a highly-unscientific answer to the exact date it is OK to start celebrating Christmas on.

And it would seem that one thing that can be settled on is that the last day of Christmas.

January 6 – a day known as Little Christmas, Nollaig na mBan or Día de los Reyes Magos (Day of the Magic Kings) in Spain, is widely accepted as the conclusion of festivities.

Read: The Stephen’s Green market is no more … but there’s a Christmas plan for the Clerys shopfront

Also: This Dublin woman is on a mission to get her adorable nanny to the Toy Show

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