Breaking the fast, watching for angels standing on the spike of every holly leaf, and being sure to say your prayers - because every Irish child knows that all prayers said on Christmas Eve are answered...
These are some of the memories of childhood Christmases in Ireland shared by Brigit Haggerty in her essay An Irish Christmas—The Night Before. Perhaps my favorite part of her descriptive remembrances is this recollection and realization:
Drifting off to sleep, I can vaguely recall hushed voices in the other room, bits and pieces of Handel's Messiah, and a feeling of pure contentment. It would take me years and years to recognize and realize that these are the gifts that go on giving.
For another look at Christmas Eve in Ireland, this time a humorous one, see the book An Irish Night Before Christmas, written by Sarah Kirwan Blazek and illustrated by James Rice. Nevermind the yule log on the fire and glasses of eggnog, here you'll find the turf blazing in the fireplace and glasses of Irish stout. This charming children's picture book will bring a smile to the face of children of all ages at Christmas.
Here's wishing you a warm candle in your window and an Irish blessing this Christmas Eve:
The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.
Image courtesy Tipperary of Tara, Ltd.