Traditionally In Ireland the 8th of December is the first shopping day of the Christmas, originally uploaded by infomatique.
I really like Christmas.
Christmas in Ireland is the largest celebration of the year and lasts from 24 December to 6 January, although many consider today (8th, December) to be the start of the season as it is the traditional Christmas shopping day in Ireland due to all schools being closed.
Although religious devotion is now considerably less than it used to be, there are huge attendances at religious services for Christmas Day, with Midnight Mass a popular choice.
Even in the most undevout of homes the traditional crib takes centre stage along with the Christmas tree as part of the family's decorations.
In the secular side of Irish society, Christmas is the biggest event of the year. Almost the entire workforce is finished by lunchtime on Christmas Eve or often a few days beforehand. Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day are public holidays and many people do not return to work until after New Year's Day.
Irish people spend more and more money each year on celebrating Christmas. In 2006, the total amount spent in Ireland to celebrate Christmas was €16 billion, which averages at approximately €4,000 for every single person in the country (no wonder we are having an economic crisis).
Santa Claus, often known in Ireland simply as Santy, brings presents to children in Ireland, which are opened on Christmas morning. Family and friends also give each other gifts at Christmas.
The traditional Christmas dinner consists of turkey or goose and ham with a selection of vegetables and a variety of potatoes. Dessert is a very rich selection of Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, and mince pies with equally rich sauces such as brandy butter.
Christmas celebrations in Ireland finish with the celebration of Little Christmas on 6 January. This festival, which coincides with Epiphany, is also known as Women's Christmas in Cork & Kerry.