First, the house is cleaned. Until it’s all tidy and proper from top to bottom. Then come the festive decorations, the garlands, the mistletoe and holly wreath. It’s an old tradition to hang mistletoe over your front door, it’s meant to drive away any evil spirits. But today, a kiss underneath the mistletoe promises a couple a prosperous life. In Ireland, the night before Christmas Eve is spent right with a pint of Guinness at the pub. On Christmas Eve itself, the Irish sit cosily around the table with their families and eat turkey, smoked salmon and Christmas pudding, wishing each other a Nollaig Shona Dhuit – Irish for Merry Christmas.
On the night of Christmas Eve, the Irish Father Christmas, Santy, puts the children’s much wished-for presents in the stockings they’ve hung up. As a small gift for Santy’s diligence, the families traditionally leave him a glass of whiskey or a sweet mince pie.