It's easy to think of the Irish as either tough brutes or bleak pessimists. Even a country like Ireland can't help but fall victim to stereotyping. However, once you get to the country yourself, you'll see that they're more than what you probably thought they were. And it helps if you're there during one of their public holidays. You'll find that the Irish are a lot happier, a lot more gently, and a lot brighter when they're celebrating or observing something important. After all, isn't a country defined by its holidays? Well, here are some of Ireland's that you might like to know.
Saint Patrick's Day (March 17)
St. Patrick's Day is, perhaps, Ireland's most famous holiday. And the word thing is its popularity doesn't come from the country itself. Many people know St. Patrick's Day as to how Irish-Americans celebrate it in the US
, mostly defined by getting drunk. Though the Irish do this as well in their native land, the holiday itself is a lot more important, more solemn, and more significant than an excuse to go drinking. The Irish don't just parade in green outfits, don leprechaun costumes, and whatever stereotypes you might have gotten from the US. They actually hear mass and attend special payer services on this day too!
May Day (First Monday in May)
Nope, this isn't an emergency! As funny as it sounds, May Day is actually a significant holiday in Ireland. In fact, it's also a holiday in the UK
, Austria, and other European countries as well. Held every first Monday of May, it's a special day to signal that spring has finally come. In the olden days, it'd used to be the first day of the Spring Festival. Now, many might mistake it as Labor Day but that's a whole other holiday entirely. Though it can often coincide with Labor Day, May Day isn't set on the first day of the month. Just the first Monday of the month.
June Holiday (First Monday in June)
In the following month, June, there's another special holiday that the Irish celebrate. Aptly named 'June Holiday,' it's held on the first Monday of June and it's virtually just a day off for the country as a whole. Back then, it used to be celebrated as “Whit Monday,” or 'Pentecost Day,' which other similarly Catholic European countries like France
celebrate to this day, but this has since changed. And while many religious folks still see it as such, the country as a whole just regards it as another free day during the spring season.
August Holiday (First Monday in August)
Want another bank holiday? There's still the August Holiday. Just like in the previous months, this special holiday is set on the first Monday of the month, making for a great long weekend to start the month right. And unlike the previous months' holidays—wherein they coincide with other significant or religious holidays—August Holiday is simply a bank holiday. A day off for most Irish banks
, government offices, schools, and more. It gives people a chance to do what they want to while in Dublin
, Limerick, Cork, and any other Irish city. Oftentimes, since it lengthens the first weekend of the month, families use it to go to the seaside.
October Holiday (First Monday in October)
Now, if you think June was the last month to have its own holiday in Ireland, you have another thing coming! October also has its own special holiday. This time, however, instead of observing it on the first Monday of the month, the holiday is set on the last Monday. It oftentimes (but not always) serves as the day after the end of Western European Summer Time, the region's daylight savings scheme. Though it doesn't have a historic or religious significance, it's still a ree day that most of the Irish celebrate. Just a nice day off to spend time with friends and family!
St. Stephen's Day (December 26)
And finally, there's St. Stephen's Day. Set on December 26, it's somewhat of a continuous holiday right after Christmas Day. Other countries, like the UK and Canada, refer to it as 'Boxing Day,' but since Ireland is a lot more religious than the two, they mostly observe it as the feast day of St. Stephen. As a result, they often start the holiday hearing mass or attending special prayer services in the saint's honor. After that, it's shopping at the 'After Christmas' sales, drinking with friends, partying with family, and many more. It's still a holiday, after all!
When you're in Ireland, you might want to check out the holidays in the country. Not only do they give you a peek of their heritage, history, religion, and culture, but you'll also know which days you can relax, take a break, and have fun here!
Only a luxurious Irish home
would make celebrating these holidays all the more exciting!