Transportes públicos e ambiente
23 de Dezembro de 2019.
Viriato e Lusitânia
24 de Dezembro de 2019.
Mostrar Tudo

Christmas traditions in Ireland

Ireland has a wide number of Christmas traditions steeped in the Gaelic and Catholic heritage of the country.

A tradition that was very widespread in the 1970s but which seems to be dying out somewhat and especially in urban areas is the candle in the window. Symbolically the candle represented a welcome to Joseph and Mary as they wandered in search of lodgings. The candle indicated to strangers and especially to the poor that there may be an offering of food in the house within.

During the penal times in Ireland Catholic priests were forbidden to perform mass so the candle would also show people passing by that the person in the house was a Catholic believer and mass could be held on the premises.

Another Christmas tradition that is still going on in Ireland today is called Little Christmas. In this tradition, all Christmas decorations must be taken down and put away on January the 6th. It is considered very bad luck to remove the decorations and Christmas tree before this date.

The widespread practice of putting a ring of Holly on a front door started in Ireland. Holly was one of the main plants that grew at Christmas time in Ireland and gave the poorest population the chance to decorate their homes.

But there are some newer traditions nowadays in Ireland. St Stephens Day is still a day for visiting family and friends but is also a great sporting day. Midnight mass is always well attended on Christmas Eve and also a Christmas Day swim is practiced in certain parts of Ireland.

The text was written in September 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Kelly Quinn. I am from County Donegal in Ireland. I have studied Journalism at university and I am interested in getting a job hopefully either working on television or on the radio. Being in Madeira is such a different experience for me; I get to experience new cultures, meet new friends and also, of course, try the famous ‘Poncha’! I am so happy to be here and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here will be like. I am hoping by being here and working with the rest of the volunteers, I can improve my public speaking and achieve a higher level of confidence in myself.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.