An Irish Christmas, Past and Present -Part 1

Was Christmas more exciting for children and more satisfying for adults in days gone by? In my humble opinion, the answer at so many levels is an emphatic “No”. But it was different.

In a 21st century  Christmas the gregarious Santa, the bearer of gifts, becomes king of the festive season and the cold dark winter nights transform into bright multicolour light shows. 

The spirit of caring and helping others is now part of the fabric of the modern Christmas with tens of millions of euros being collected for good causes every December in Ireland. There is a wonderful emphasis on volunteering and taking part in fund-raising events for those who are disadvantaged both at home and abroad. Inclusivity and diversity takes centre stage with children of special needs, disabilities, ethnicity and faiths being given respect and prominence in the media such as on the Late Late Toy Show and other festive television delights. The renowned generosity and openness of the Irish is there for all to see.

Pop-up Xmas markets are hosted in every city enticing the visitor with amongst other things, live entertainment, an array of Irish handmade produce, fair trade gifts, mouth-watering craft beverages and tasty homegrown organic foods. Every town and village across the country is decorated with colourful sparkling bunting and lights, and the gardens and buildings of many private houses look like Las Vegas at night-time. 

It is a time when fun family events promoting quality of life tend to be held such as the mass public cycle ride through Galway city of two weeks ago promoting the Salthill Cycleway when participants of all ages dressed up in thematic fancy dress (I was Super Mario!) and rode their blinged-out bikes!

Over the last few years, the Irish people are encouraged like never before to Buy Irish,  Buy Local, Buy Sustainably, Buy Organic and support jobs and innovation in Ireland

Thanks to online shopping and special festive product releases, the selection of toys for children as well as electronic gadgetry, clothes, toiletries and jewellery for adults has never been more wide ranging.

Up until COVID, all age groups could celebrate at Christmas with their peers, from work parties for the adults , to clubbing for the teens/younger adults, and to school concerts for the children and parents. The cinemas, streaming and online media libraries such as Netflix as well as music services explode with much anticipated seasonal movies and music blockbusters.

Children happily write cards to Santa and more likely than not he delivers their requested and oftentimes very expensive gifts. Boys and girls wake up early on Christmas morning to rush down to the tree to be overwhelmed with an array of toys. Thank you Santa!

Christmas during my childhood was more frugal, more serious, less bright and less festive than that of the 21st century. But it was nevertheless every bit as magical and joyful for children then as it is for today’s young generation. In fact…(Part 2 to follow tomorrow).

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