Monday, March 2, 2009

First Christmas in Ireland

I haven't celebrated Christmas in a few years, except when I've been in California and with my kids, and I didn't think I would do anything in Ireland either. The women told me that an Irish custom is to have a light in every window of your house, just in case the three wise men, the shepherds, or Mary & Joseph came along they would see the lights and know they could stop there. They also said that many women start saving bottles a few months before Christmas in order to safely hold the candles.

My window sills were very deep, close to 3', so I had a nice flat surface on which to set the candles. Fire was a worry to me though, because there wasn't a fire department for miles around and if a house caught on fire it would just burn to the ground. The walls were stone and the roof was slate, but interior furnishings could catch fire from the open flame. I started saving bottles - Bailey's Irish Cream bottles were perfect, but wine bottles worked also. Even so, when I finally had enough and set them up I still set a large piece of aluminum foil on the wooden sill and then placed the bottle with candle on top of that. When I finally did light them on Christmas Eve, I kept busy running up and down the steps checking the upstairs windows to make sure a candle hadn't fallen. It was probably more worry than it was worth.

But oh, the comments I got. Everyone for miles around must have heard about the "American woman who showed up the Irish this year". The Irish who still follow the custom of lights in the windows have gone to buying the electric kind, so they were amused and maybe even a little impressed that I went to the trouble to do it the old fashioned country way.

I was pleased with how they looked from the outside, and besides running up and down the steps, went in and out the front door to take a look at my beautiful lights. By the time I snuffed out the candles and went to bed I was surely as tired as Santa Claus himself!