Christmas Blessings

Blessings in Ireland have been associated with Irish culture for a long time, and are part of a longstanding Irish tradition of not only prayer and church, but to show others they are loved and cared for. Blessings are well-known in toasts, greetings, farewells and as a way of petitioning Heaven for the bestowment of good health and luck upon our loved ones.

In fact blessings are part of our heritage and were used in ancient Ireland by the Celts, our forefathers, and the tradition of using them at weddings, funerals, christenings and other important life events, remain.

Christmastime is one of those special occasions when blessings are used throughout Ireland. It has always been, and remains a very important time of the year in Irish culture; and many families when they gather together, remember relatives and friends, near and far.

The Christmas dinner itself – held special significance in Ulster, with loved ones being remembered in the blessing of that meal. However, more often than not, Irish Christmas blessings invoke good luck and health for the new year to come, and are repeated again come New Years Eve.

In these times you’ll find a variety of Irish blessings in Christmas cards, with things like – ‘May peace, happiness, and good health be guided to your home by the Christmas Eve candle,’ or ‘May St Patrick and St Nicholas protect and bless you, and trouble ignore you on Christmas day, and every day to come.’

‘Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi shaonas duit’ – in English, is literally – ‘A happy and prosperous Christmas to you,’ – and – ‘Beannachtaí na Nollag duit‘ – as – ‘The blessings of Christmas be with you.’

Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi shaonas duit, is pronounced – as – ‘Nollig fwee shee-aniss, fwee showniz ditch.’ – and –Beannachtaí na Nollag duit, pronounced as – ‘Ban-nock-tee na nollig ditch.’

And – ‘Nollaig shona duit’ – pronounced – as ‘Nollig, hunna ditch.

However in county Antrim, it has been, and is still pronounced in certain pockets as – ‘Nollig Shona Ditch,’ – in part, I believe with the ancient cultural link with Scotland, and Scots Gaelic, and you do find many of the same word usages with Western Scotland, it’s Islands, in the North of Ireland. It would be interesting to read anyone else’s ideas on these connections, or it may be someone out there knows more about those Gaelic speaking links than I do, which would be very welcome and helpful to future blogs…

In the meantime, ‘May peace, happiness, and good health be guided to your home by the Christmas Eve candle, Goe Bless.’

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