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Dublin: 2°C Monday 12 April 2021

9 people around Ireland share their favourite Christmas traditions

In this week’s Ask The Elves, we want to know about the rituals you follow year after year.

FIVE YEARS AGO, I booked my mam and I in for afternoon tea in a Dublin hotel. It was the first week of December and the tree was freshly up in the foyer looking stunning. Right there and then we decided we’d make it a regular date – and enjoying an afternoon of calm before the craziness of Christmas sets in is now my favourite festive tradition.

In our Ask The Elves series, we’ll be finding out about the rituals our readers love, and asking them to share their stories on a different festive topic each week.

This week we’re asking: What’s your favourite festive tradition?

And you shared some great ones:

New pyjamas for the little ones: I always buy the children new pyjamas for Christmas Eve night so they look their best for Santa. I’ve been doing it for years. My older children, Colm and Úna, who are 21 and 23 as well as my younger two – Aine, 11, and seven-year-old Orán – always look forward to it. We love Christmas Eve and last year I got engaged to my partner Mick on December 24 – so it’s become that bit more special now.

- Fionnuala Cassidy

And the bigger ones: I love my family – Christmas means a catch up with those scattered far and wide, lots of food, wine and laughs. However my favourite Christmas tradition happens after they leave and it’s time to put on the new Christmas pyjamas.

These will probably be red and white, brushed cotton and feature a dreamy snow scene. I curl up on the sofa and savour the quiet, watch the fire in a daze, revisit recently opened presents, be fascinated by the latest TV mystery, and go to bed knowing that the next morning is time for a long lie in followed by a Boxing Day walk. When I return home, it’s time to don those pyjamas again. Never does nightwear embody such qualities – rest, recuperation and indulgence. Bring it on!

- Joanna Donaldson

The never-changing rituals of dinner: I’m very much not a festive kind of guy but I always relish the period of winding down, spending some time with the parents and – let’s be honest – the dinner rituals! They’re a throwback to childhood and, as an adult of long standing, I still relish the roast potatoes, the jelly and trifle.

- Dermot McNally

Source: Shutterstock/kipgodi

What the season is all about: Seeing the church Nativity scene for the first time is my favourite tradition of the festive period. When it appears, I feel it refocuses my mind on what Christmas is all about. I like to go into different churches to see what their crib looks like and say a prayer. I have fond memories of visiting the crib with my grandmother to light a candle and say a prayer at St Canice’s Church in Finglas, Dublin where she lived. I loved going to do this with her – it was a very special time.

- Gráinne Mulholland

A little (friendly?) competition: It’s the time of year to dust off the Monopoly board (and get ready for battle). I love playing games with my family and how serious it always gets!

- Charlotte Hughes

Old traditions and new ones: I love that every year my mum panics that she hasn’t enough lights, buys more, and the house winds up glowing. Without fail. Our Christmas Day traditions have changed in recent years and we now spend it at Marie Curie hospice – nowhere near as sad as some would think. The staff are all in great spirits and we’re so grateful for them giving up their day to spend it with us!

- Alana Hughes

The magical bran tub: My favourite Christmas tradition is our bran tub. On Christmas evening after the turkey has been consumed and all the gifts opened, the extended family arrive and we have a large tub full of bits of polystyrene foam and containing small gifts (worth no more than €5) wrapped inside. From the oldest to the youngest member of the family everyone has a dip in the tub and gifts have ranged from a nose-warmer to ‘Dump Trump’ toilet paper!

No matter how generous the gifts on Christmas morning, all ages are always more excited to unwrap the mystery contents of the bran tub!

- Deborah Doherty

Source: Shutterstock/Klara Z

A home-made calendar: My favourite tradition is doing a homemade advent calendar. Every year I wrap up tiny, inexpensive gifts and put one in each pocket. This year it’s Christmas pencils and temporary tattoos – the kids will love them!

I also write a little Christmas message or task for each pocket. It’s a nice way to get away from chocolate every day, and the little messages are to try and get away from the endless commercialism of Christmas which I think is overwhelming for everyone – me included!!

- Rebecca Rutherford

And of course the best traditions put a smile on your face, year after year: Does mummy enjoying a little too much Baileys and falling asleep on the sofa surrounded by Quality Street wrappers count as a tradition?

- Victoria Nicol

Do you have a tradition that means Christmas to you? Share it in the comments!

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