An Irish Holiday Gift Guide
By Erin Reilly
November 8, 2013
A range of traditional gifts sure to delight.
For many people, Christmas would not be the same without the classic Irish traditions treasured by generations of families and passed down from Irish ancestors: lighting a candle in the window to welcome Mary and Joseph; Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve; decorating doors with holly wreaths not to be taken down until “Little Christmas” on January 6th. While people often take their ancestry for granted, Christmas is a great way to get back in touch with Irish customs.
Another way to celebrate Irish heritage during the holidays is to give Irish Christmas Gifts that are rich in history and culture. Irish clothing is perfect for loved ones of all ages, and very appropriate for the coming winter, as Ireland’s chilly weather year-round means that most signature articles of clothing are comfortable, long lasting, and warm enough to help brave the cold. Irish jewelry is another great gift, especially when buying for one’s significant other, as many Celtic knots and symbols have connotations of love, and are often given as signs of commitment.
Among many popular Irish gifts is the Irish Aran Sweater, or jumper. This quintessential Irish sweater comes from the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland, and has transformed from a staple of the Irish fisherman’s wardrobe to a popular and in-demand article of clothing for men, women, and children. The appeal of Aran sweaters is their enduring sheep’s wool material; the sweater will keep you warm for years without deteriorating or losing its comfortable softness. For this reason, an Aran sweater will become an invaluable piece in anyone’s wardrobe. Another part of its allure is the intricacy of its patterns, including symbols of Irish culture that are knit into its design.
For men, the Aran sweater is traditionally worn as a simple pullover; this is the classic style by which the sweater was originally made. In keeping with the Aran tradition, the sweaters are un-dyed and worn in their natural white color. They are generally worn loosely so that they are comfortable and warm without the heavyweight fabric burdening its wearer.
Women often enjoy a more refined style for Aran sweaters. While keeping with the traditional white color and intricate patterns, women’s Aran sweaters are often designed as wrap-around sweaters, fastened in the front with one or more buttons or with sophisticated collar designs that distinguish them as stylish and feminine. This also allows a loose-fitting style that it is both comfortable and fashionable, making it the perfect gift for the winter season.
When thinking about gifts to give children, many are put off by the idea of giving clothes. However, Aran sweaters remain an appealing option. Their loose and comfortable fit means that children will not grow out of them as easily as they do other clothes, and both pullover and cardigan styles look adorable on children of all ages. Parents will not have to worry about stubborn children who do not want to wear bulky winter coats. Aran sweaters will ensure that children can stay warm throughout the season while remaining comfortable.
While Aran sweaters may be one of the most popular styles of Irish clothing, there are many different types of Irish sweaters that would make the perfect gifts for Christmas. Among them is the Fisherman’s Donegal Rib sweater, a piece that is great for men seeking a traditional Irish style. This Celtic sweater has a simple, ribbed pattern that can come in many colors, though it is often made in a rich, Irish green. Both the shoulder and elbows of this classic sweater are padded, giving it an athletic look, while its knit material makes this sweater perfect for lounging on a cold day. The sweater can be worn loosely for comfort or in a more fitting, athletic style.
Cardigans are also popular Irish Christmas Gifts, especially for women. Irish basket weave cardigans are both a stylish and practical gift with a unique touch of traditional Irish patterns, similar to Aran sweaters. This cardigan’s merino wool complements the strong and durable clothing of Irish tradition; the comfortable fabric ensures that this cardigan will last for years, and with its fashionable and rustic lumber buttons, anyone who wears this will be reluctant to take it off.
Another way to keep warm is with an Irish Mohair throw, a perfect gift for those who enjoy staying inside by the fire with an Irish cup of tea and their favorite biscuits. The mohair throw, which comes in many different colors, is a versatile piece that can be used as a blanket, shawl, or simply a decoration to brighten up one’s home. Its soft material makes it difficult to resist, and its durability makes this gift likely to be passed on through generations.
As no good Irishman could be without his favorite stout, no gift is better for traditional Irishmen or Irish beer enthusiasts than that which bears the world famous name of Guinness. The golden harp symbol is as much a symbol of Irish pride as the tricolor flag itself. The Guinness Rugby Shirt is a festive gift that wears as an authentic rugby shirt, and bears the date in which the Guinness factory first opened. While some people may wear Rugby shirts to show support for their favorite teams, this shirt is a great gift for men who are fanatic for this traditional Irish brewery.
Many gift buyers shopping for their significant other fret about finding a thoughtful and meaningful gift. There is no better choice than traditional Irish jewelry. Rings are especially popular, such as the widespread phenomenon of the claddagh ring, and the Gaelic Trinity knot. The Trinity knot is an ancient Celtic knot that symbolizes the Holy Trinity and is a rich and fascinating piece of Celtic culture and Irish pride. It has been a central focus of ancient and religious art in Ireland for centuries and has played a role in such significant texts as the Book of Kells. As well as its religious connotations, the Trinity knot has come to be a symbol of love, both of faith and the love between people. For years, Irish traditions have included this Celtic symbol in tapestries, churches, and, of course, jewelry. Its simple and elegant knot pattern makes it a perfect design for rings and its authentic Irish craftsmanship makes it perfect for any loved one this Christmas.
While wondering what you should get you loved ones this Christmas, consider the significant meaning that comes with the traditions of Ireland, and the gifts that glorify centuries of rich Celtic culture. These Irish Christmas Gifts are sure to please everyone on your list, and you can beat the hoards of shoppers by getting a head start. You will be done shopping before you can say Nollaig Shona Duit! (Merry Christmas!).