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7 Irish Christmas traditions you may not know about

Tim Parkinson | CC BY 2.0

Who knew our Irish cousins start December 25 with a "Christmas swim"?

Click here to launch the slideshow

Think of Christmas traditions and beautifully decorated trees, Nativity scenes and the joyful sound of Christmas carols may come to mind. But in Ireland, things are a little different. Christmas for Irish Catholics lasts from Christmas eve to the Epiphany on the 6th of January, also referred to as “little Christmas” (“Nollaig na mBan” in Irish, which literally means “Women’s Christmas”).

St. Stephen’s Day, the celebration on December 26 of the first Christian martyr, stoned to death not too long after Jesus’ Crucifixion, is also very important for the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle. And throughout such a packed calendar of celebrations, Irish Catholics make sure to live out some of their most ancient traditions, from swimming in the freezing cold waters of the Irish Sea to sipping hot Irish whiskey punch.

Click on the gallery to look at a selection of some unique Irish Christmas traditions:

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