Ireland: Mistletoe and Winter Swimming


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.


On Christmas morning, the 25th of December, things get peculiar. A very special spectacle takes place in many coastal towns of the green island: the traditional Christmas swim in the ice-cold sea. If you’d like to see the spectacle in Dublin for yourself or even go for a dip in the cold water, you should make your way to the Forty Food coastal resort at Sandycove, Dublin. Festive freezing is also scheduled at Portstewart beach in county Londonderry. The atmosphere is rather hilarious thanks to the dry Irish humour.

The traditional winter swim has been professionally organised in Ireland for well over 40 years now in many coastal towns, but also at a few rivers. It usually gets going in the early hours of the morning. Warm drinks and soup are provided on location. It’s a fun activity that brings people together and raises money for charity. Afterwards, it’s time to go home – with everyone feeling a little hardier and refreshed.

Everyone should experience the Irish winter tradition up close at least once. The green island is perfectly connected to Berlin at two destinations. Aer Lingus flies from Tegel and Ryanair from Schönefeld into the capital city of Dublin. Ryanair also flies from Schönefeld to Kerry Airport in south-west Ireland.

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