I have a particular interest in culture and history, especially the history of my home country, Ireland.
Blessings have been associated with Irish culture for a long time. They are part of a longstanding Irish tradition of using words to show others that they are loved and cared for. The Irish are well-known for their toasts, greetings, farewells and well-wishes, all of which are used to bestow health and good luck upon loved ones.
Blessings in Gaelic and English
Originally, Irish blessings were part of the Gaelic language tradition. However, as more and more Irish people adopted English as their first language, many Gaelic blessings were adapted or translated into English. Irish blessings often relate to positive wishes for the future. They are traditionally used at weddings, funerals, christenings and other important life events.
Christmas Time in Ireland
Christmas is one of many times of the year when blessings are typically used in Ireland. Usually, Irish Christmas blessings invoke good luck and health for the new year to come. Christmas is a very important time of year in Irish culture; it is a time during which families gather and remember friends near and far. Many people in Ireland enjoy a big meal on Christmas Day among family. Absent loved ones can be remembered with a toast or blessing. Cards and presents are also exchanged.
Traditional Irish Christmas blessings are a great way to let friends and family know you are thinking of them and wish them health and good cheer in the year to come. Below is a selection of traditional Irish Christmas blessings in English followed by instructions on how to wish someone a merry Christmas in Gaelic. Also included are Irish Christmas poems that can be read aloud or used in holiday cards. Refer to the video at the end of this article for help pronouncing Christmas greetings in Gaelic.
Irish Christmas Blessings
Irish blessings can be used in Christmas cards, letters and party invitations. Here are a few short blessings that you might like to use this year. If you are sending a letter or card to someone Irish, consider including one of the Gaelic Christmas wishes below in addition to an English blessing.
- May peace and plenty be the first to lift the latch on your door, and may happiness be guided to your home by the candle of Christmas.
- May the good saints protect you and bless you today. And may trouble ignore you each step of the way. Christmas joy to you!
- May we all be alive and well here this time next year! (This blessing is traditionally spoken on New Year's Eve.)
Gaelic Christmas Wishes
- Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi shaonas duit! (A happy and prosperous Christmas to you!)
- Beannachtaí na Nollag duit! (The blessings of Christmas be with you!)
You might be wondering how to pronounce those last two Gaelic blessings above. Here is some guidance:
- Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi shaonas duit is pronouned "noll-ag fwee shee-an iss fwee show-nas ditch."
- Beannachtaí na Nollag duit is pronounced "ban-ach-tee na noll-ag ditch."
How to Say "Merry Christmas" in Gaelic
Wondering how to greet someone on Christmas day in Gaelic? You can say "Nollaig shona duit" (pronounced "noll-eg, hun-na ditch"). This phrase's literal meaning is "Christmas happiness be with you." If you are interested in learning more about how to pronounce Christmas greetings in Gaelic, check out the video below.
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List of Irish Christmas Poems
Perhaps you would like to add an Irish Christmas poem to your holiday cards this year. Better yet, maybe you would like to recite one at a Christmas gathering. Here are some Christmas poems by Irish poets that I would recommend. They can all be found online with a quick search.
- "A Christmas Childhood" by Patrick Kavanagh
- "Advent" by Patrick Kavanagh
- "Snow" by Louis MacNeice
- "Christmas Day" by Paul Durcan
- "Oíche Nollag na mBan" by Seán Ó Ríordáin
- "The Kerry Christmas Carol" by Sigerson Clifford
However you decide to celebrate Christmas, I hope your heart is warmed by the loved ones in your life. Nollaig shona duit—merry Christmas!
More on Christmas in Ireland
There are many Christmas traditions unique to Ireland. Some date back to Celtic times, while others are more recent additions to Irish culture. Check out the articles linked below to learn more.
Marie McKeown (author) from Ireland on November 08, 2011:
Thanks Ghaelach - I hope you are keeping well yourself!
Ghaelach on November 08, 2011:
Lovely hub, great images, and a beautiful song from an equally beautiful group "Celtic Woman"
Take care Marie and have a nice day