It’s the most wonderful time of the year…CHRISTMAS!!! And, for the first time ever, I get to experience this magical season in another part of the world. In many ways, Christmas in Ireland is very similar to Christmas in America–there are trees and lights and carols and Santa. Some things are a bit different, though.
For starters, the beginning of the actual Christmas season is a bit more ambiguous here. Without Thanksgiving and BLACK FRIDAY (ugh.) to mark the official beginning of all things Christmasey, you start seeing decorations and marketing for the holiday amp up right after Halloween. Another difference in Ireland is the big guy in the red suit. Santa is everywhere here–even more prevalent than America, which I didn’t expect. But he’s cooler here, too. Instead of just getting a photo and a 2-inch candy cane when you sit on Santa’s lap, he gives all the kids actual presents. Proper presents. Like MagnaDoodles and marble mazes and books and farm sets complete with tractors and all the animals. Man, Santa is already so busy with the Irish kids that I’m not sure he’ll have enough loot for the rest of the world come December 25th.
Differences aside, Christmas is Christmas no matter where you are in the world. It is a special time of year full of tradition and festivities. Here are a few highlights from our Christmas season in Cork:
We walked through downtown Cork to see the big wheel and the “German” Christmas market. We ate bratwurst and felt like we were in Leavenworth. It was grand.
The city was all decked out with lights and wreaths and Christmas trees. David liked the Christmas trees the best because, obviously, they were covered in balls. Lots and lots of little red balls that he tried to rip off every tree we passed. Luckily for us, the city planners anticipated his ornament-swiping attempts and they actually zip-tied all of the decorations to the trees. Cork:1, David:0.
We did some holiday baking so Mommy could eat some sweets. I found a kit at the grocery store to bake polar bear cupcakes. They turned out super cute and tasted as good as they looked.
December has been really pleasant weather-wise with mild, dry days. We’ve had fun getting outside to play with our friends:
…and even take a trip to the zoo:
After a failed mid-week attempt to go to a local “Christmas farm” I begged Jon to take us back on the weekend. He’s a good husband, and he obliged. Rumley’s is an “open farm” (a real working farm that they deck out so the public can visit it) and they had lots of animals and fun activities for the kids. They had quite a range of animals for a farm–it was really more like a zoo. They had water buffalo, alpaca, sheep, cows, donkeys, pigs, birds, lemurs, monkeys, mongoose, ostriches and even camels.
There were go-karts to drive:
…and golf balls to drive (David’s favorite):
We rode on a tractor pull:
…and got to pet some cute cuddly creatures:
And to wrap up our Christmas in Cork we celebrated with David’s first-ever preschool Christmas pageant. David was the cutest little shepherd I ever have seen (I wonder if real shepherd’s wear dish towels on their heads?). Here’s our little shepherd David with his friend Jack the donkey:
And here’s the whole class getting ready to perform (there were about 30 preschoolers and about 5,000 parents in the audience):
And, finally, here’s David with his sweet teacher Miss Aisling:
We have had such a wonderful time here in Cork celebrating the first part of this Christmas season. Tomorrow, though, we leave Ireland for our big trip home to Seattle for Christmas. We will be spending three (3!) glorious weeks with our loved ones. I can’t wait to go home and see everyone and everything that I’ve been missing but, truth be told, I will also be missing Ireland. Merry Christmas, Ireland–we’ll see you again soon!