Oíche Nollag – Christmas Eve

Candle in window

In Ireland we have a tradition of putting a candle in the window to let the Holy Family know that they are welcome to stay in our homes for Christmas. Even the President of Ireland upholds the tradition. It is a symbol of Irish hospitality.

The following poem originally composed and written in Irish (Gaeilge) by Máire Mhac an tSaoi is taught to all primary school children. There are several English translations on the internet but I think the following one is as near as you can get in verse form.

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Oíche Nollag

Le coinnle na n-aingeal tá an spéir amuigh breactha,
Tá fiacail an tseaca sa ghaoith ón gcnoc;
Adaigh an tine is téir chun na leapa:
Luífidh Mac Dé ins an teach seo anocht.
Fágaidh an doras ar leathadh ina coinne,
An Mhaighdean a thiocfaidh is a Naí ar a hucht;
Deonaigh do shuaimhneas a ligean, a Mhuire,
Luíodh Mac Dé ins an teach seo anocht.
Bhí soilse ar lasadh i dteach sin na haíochta,
Cóiriú gan chaoile, bia agus deoch,
Do cheannaithe olla, do cheannaithe síoda,
Ach luífidh Mac Dé ins an teach seo anocht.
le Máire Mhac an tSaoi

 Drawing of Christmas Candle

Christmas Eve

The candles of the angels sprinkle in the sky outside,
The teeth of the frost come with the wind from the hill;
Let ye all rake up the fire now and get into bed:
And God’s Son will go to sleep in this house tonight.
And let ye leave the door wide open for her too,
The Virgin who is coming with her Baby on her breast;
Come on in, sure, and have a rest for yourself now, Mary,
And let God’s Son go to sleep in this house tonight.
The lamps were all lighting up in that hospitable inn,
Without stint was the food, without stint was the drink,
For the traders in wool, for the traders in silk,
But isn’t God’s Son going to go to sleep in this house tonight.
by Máire Mhac an tSaoi
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