Monday, December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Christmas Rituals from Ireland
A blog by Felicity Hayes-McCoy from discoverireland.com May you find traditions from your roots mingled in your Christmas present!
Traditions are especially cherished at this time of year, and often in parts of the country where the past does not seem so long ago. AuthorFelicity Hayes-McCoy recalls some of the Christmas rituals being celebrated in her corner of west Kerry.In Ireland in the past, doors were left unlocked on Christmas Eve and fires that were usually covered with ashes at bedtime burnt brightly all night on the hearthstones. Each night during the Christmas season candles shone in the windows, sometimes anchored by sea-sand in jars wrapped in coloured paper, sometimes just set in a hole gouged out of a turnip.
In many households today those old glass or stoneware jars, that once held jam or marmalade, are still carefully kept. Here in West Kerry they come out at Christmas to be refurbished, or just polished, and carefully set on the windowsills. And boxes of tall, red candles, big enough to burn each night through the Christmas season, still appear in shops here in December, along with boxes of salted fish, called ling, that’s traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve.
The open doors, the fires and the candles in the windows are part of Ireland’s traditional Christmas rituals. They offer symbolic warmth and shelter to Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem, where, in the Christian story, Christ was born in a stable because there was no room at the inn.
These days the candles in Irish windows are often powered by electricity but if you cross the mountain to Dingle on Christmas Eve the pinpoints of light, clustered like stars, still mark the presence of villages. And for centuries, Christmas lights here were more than symbols. Flickering in the darkness, they offered shelter to any and every wanderer who walked the Irish roads on Christmas Eve.
It was an echo of the ancient, pre-Christian belief, held all over Europe, that a stranger on the threshold seeking shelter might well be a god in disguise.
Everywhere you look at Christmas time in West Kerry you can see Ireland’s Celtic inheritance, still present in rituals that once brought energy and confidence to the darkest months of the pagan year.
On the 26th December, when one of the biggest holiday events in Ireland takes place in Dingle town. Its name is a corruption of the English word ‘wren’, and in the Irish language it’s Wran. There’s endless research on The Wran’s Day, and suggestions that, the word for wren, comes from ‘druid’s bird’. The festival’s certainly as old as the ancient gatherings in which disguised dancers swayed between bonfires, music and lights, dancing to ward off midwinter famine and darkness.
In the past, groups of boys here used to dress up in rags or old coats turned inside out. Each separate group was called a ‘wran’. Smeared with soot, or wearing masks, they’d go from house to house, playing music and asking for pennies. Nowadays most people head for Dingle instead to join the rival parades that march and dance through the streets playing music. The collections are mainly for charities now and wrans compete to see who can raise the most money for local causes.
Starting at sunrise, the festivities continue late into the night, when groups of masked musicians play and dance in the pubs and the streets, defying the winter cold and darkness. Everyone’s welcome to join the celebration. Like the open doors and flickering candles, the tradition of the Wran reaches out to friends and strangers alike. Rooted in ideas of hospitality and sharing, it’s not just a great way to keep the Christmas party going. It’s a living link with West Kerry’s ancient Celtic inheritance.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Let It Snow
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Better Than Dreams
Saturday, December 08, 2012
Lessons from Lennon
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Love is a Verb
Monday, December 03, 2012
He watched her on the balcony, her feet stepping in time with the notes of the Charleston wafting from the nightclub below. Her legs continued the exuberance of the song as they shifted beneath the shear layers of her dress. He lingered, a bit too long, on her backside. Enjoyed the way it wiggled beneath the black silk material. Damn, she was a distraction. The man to her left, handing her a flute of Champagne, was his target.
She moved away from the railing. Her flushed face reflected her enjoyment of the music, made his mind go straight to how she’d look lying beneath him in bed. Especially as her breasts jiggled beneath the fabric and her long pearl necklace bounced between and over them as her dance continued. She lifted the glass to her lips, the effervescent bubbles made her nose twitch and her lips turn in a smile. She took her sip and giggled.
“Isn’t my sister a beauty, Vincent?” Gene Monti, the man he was supposed to be getting close to, cupped his sister’s chin.
She pulled her head away and lowered her face, clearly embarrassed but not enough for her to keep her eyes lowered. Her gaze locked with his waiting for his reply.
He’d been so mesmerized by the woman he almost forgot to answer to his undercover name. How to answer this was another problem. He had to stay on the man’s good side “If you say so, Monti, who am I to argue”