Since we leave on Saturday, my next blog will be coming from that warmer place. Today, I'm going to touch on Christmas in Ireland. Though the country is officially secular, 87% of the population would self-identify as Catholic. Some of these people fully embrace their Catholicisms. They attend mass every day, eat fish on Fridays, and avoid yoga as it could involve practicing another religion. The second tier is comprised of people who attend mass on Sundays. By far the majority of people probably only attend mass for funerals, weddings and baptisms.
The Catholic Church also owns at least half of everything. Obviously they own the churches... but they also own 3 of the 4 elementary schools in Maynooth, they own the Children's Hospital that Nikolai went to in Dublin, they own the grounds of NUIM and rents them to the University (debates between the University and the Priests over new buildings and campus life provides for much of the gossip around town). So Christmas in Ireland is much more CHRISTmass than it is in Canada.
Evidence of the nativity abound. The preschools teach songs about baby Jesus. The shops sell costumes for the nativity plays that will be performed by every class in Maynooth (I was tempted to buy Nikolai a Star costume... but might leave it till the sales).
We went to Dublin to see the lights and windows a few weekends ago. Dublin lights up in a way that is beyond anything I've seen in Canada. We walked up Henry Street as the sun was setting, so our better photos are all from the Grafton area. Above is a picture of the advent calendar that took me forEVER to sew. Below is Grafton.