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Debunked: Dublin City Council did not rename 'Winter Lights' to avoid mentioning Christmas

Dozens of commenters have reacted expressing offence at the term – but it’s been in use since 2018.

ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUT DUBLIN’S Winter Lights displays have prompted a flurry of accusations that Dublin City Council is avoiding or afraid of using the word “Christmas”.

While some people do hold sincere concerns about how Christmas celebrations are changing over time, the facts surrounding the name of a festive Dublin lights display shows that it is a poor target for such criticism.

In response to posts on Twitter/X by Dublin City Council (DCC) promoting their Winter Lights, dozens of commenters have reacted expressing offence at the term.

“The utter contempt for population by renaming these winter lights” one comment complained, implying that the lights used to be called by another name.

Some seemed to put the omission of the term Christmas down to political correctness. Others blamed “wokeness” – a term initially referring to people who were aware of social injustices, but now used to refer to almost any left-leaning political view.

“Dublin City Council repeatedly refuse to say the word Christmas in case it offends someone,” said one post.

Another commenter wrote: “When this current government is demolished next year, you will be held accountable for what you have done to discredit the annual Christmas lights, your woke culture and winter lights will see its power cut.”

Another: “‘Winter lights’, ‘rainbow lights’. Anything but Christmas lights. Why do commies want to steal Christmas?” 

Others seemed to take aim at multiculturalism: “Spineless Dublin council, trying to change the identity of Ireland by not having the backbone to use the word ‘Christmas’ when referring to their lights.”

Said another: “If foreigners are offended by our culture they should leave. Why should we change to accommodate non-Irish?” 

“The pagan ‘winter’ light festival of Offend Nobody takes place around Christmas time but should in no way be construed as being part of Christmas,” another post read. “Meanwhile, @DubCityCouncil celebrates Diwali, Eid and anything else they can to show they’re woke and not awful christians at all at all.”

Many of these comments appeared to parallel discussions over a ‘War on Christmas‘. Around this time of year American conservatives in particular often argue that omissions of explicit references to Christmas, or to the birth of Jesus, are signs of disrespect against Christianity (festive Starbucks cups are a regular target). 

“It’s Christmas lights you clowns, insulting Christians again with your rainbow crap,” one online commenter said in response to a post about the Winter Lights. 

“CHRISTMAS LIGHTS! IN A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY!” another user wrote. “Anyone who’s offended you know where the airport is!”

Public figures

Some of those posting online about the issue were public figures. 

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, Chairman of the Irish Muslim Council tweeted:“It’s Christmas lights. As a Muslim, I even find this very problematic! It’s not winter lights. Once again, it’s Christmas lights!” 

“The word Christmas is offensive now,” one post that was retweeted by Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan and dozens of other users said. “We have to be at peak stupidity now, or is there no end to it”

Flanagan himself wrote in a tweet seen more than 73,000 times: “What a pity @DubCityCouncil neglects & refuses to acknowledge ‘Christmas’ !” 

Council tweets 

DCC has acknowledged Christmas repeatedly – including on Twitter/X, the platform where much of the claims were made.

For example, tweets including the word “Christmas” were posted on DCC’s official Twitter feed on December 2nd, and then again, twice, on December 3rd.

Further tweets featuring the term were posts on December 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 12th, four times on the 13th, twice on the 14th, and twice on the 15th – the day that Flanagan tweeted that DCC refused to acknowledge Christmas.

The Winter Lights themselves are listed on a DCC website, on a page called “Believe in Dublin this Christmas”, which is accessible at

The term Winter Lights was used because the local authority is not describing all the festive lights put up in the city – for example, the more traditional lights on Grafton Street are not included as part of the ‘Winter Lights’ programme.

Instead, when it uses the name Winter Lights, DCC is referring to a specific series of light display events, often projected onto large buildings in Dublin. Documents on the DCC website show has been in official use for five years.

“The name Dublin Winter Lights has been used since this event was first established in 2018”, Dublin City Council confirmed to The Journal.

Other lights, such as the displays at Smithfield and Swords — which largely feature bulbed lights rather than large-scale projections, are explicitly called ‘Christmas lights’ on a DCC website 


Dublin City Council did not rename Christmas lights ‘Winter Lights’ in an attempt to avoid mentioning Christmas. The council makes frequently reference to Christmas. ‘Winter Lights’ is the official name of a series of light displays, and has been since the project was established in 2018.

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