Dublin Streets on Christmas Day

Dublin City Centre was surprisingly busy on Christmas Day. The Chinese and Asian restaurants were open, the odd local shop was serving customers and lots of tourists and people who don’t celebrate the holiday were milling about the streets, perhaps to simply enjoy the city in day light mostly devoid of people. It was fascinating to see. Though I imagine as the years go on, more and more shops will be open on 25th December.

O’Connell Street Christmas Tree

O’Connell Street

Darren on Henry Street

Dublin on Christmas Eve

Spending Christmas in Dublin I took in the seasonal spirit and general atmosphere in the city centre on the eve of the day of Christmas: Monday 24th December 2012. Grafton Street was crazy, the shopping centres were terribly busy, Henry Street was filled with shoppers. Generally, it was brilliant. Having all the time in the world and all we had to purchase were champagne flutes, strawberries, vegetables, tortilla crisps, beer and wine.

I had a fantastic Christmas Eve. Dublin Does it well. The weather was a little weird though. Blue skies and just a little chilly. This time two years ago it was 26°C colder than this year!

Christmas Tree at Smithfield

Powerscourt Shopping Centre

Powerscourt Shopping Centre

Darren in Powerscourt Shopping Centre

Grafton Street

Grafton Street

Darren on Grafton Street

Sexy Sax Guy, he is not

So that was Christmas 2011

Christmas is a strange time of year.

Church on Sunday
For the most part I love Christmas. For me it it’s about few days to chill-out with family; eat lots of chocolate, have a few drinks, hang out with my awesome cousins, a nice meal (stuffing!), refuse to wear paper hats, argue with my parents about going to church one day a year “because it’s what we do at Christmas”, give awesome presents to the ones I love, get some awesome presents (but giving awesome presents is better). Yet it is never about a Jewish philosopher, a fat man in a red suit, or a skinny man in a green suit, nor the commercial bullshit which surround it.

I debated whether or not to go to church with my parents. In the end I went. It’s a boring ritualistic affair with drab music in between the monotonic voice of the man at the pulpit coming out from the speakers dotted between the congregation. A larger congregation than usual; the hypocrisy is far from subtle.

Back at home the question comes again: “Why don’t you like religion?” There are many answers. I have my reasons. But mostly, when I get involved in a conversation like that I realise the fundamental questions that someone of faith has. It helps challenge me and rehearse other angles. Most importantly, it’s enjoyable to have a wee debate and express my own feelings. However, insignificant church is to my Christmas, it is a standard part of my parents’ Christmas, and a part of what their family does.

church christmas

church christmas

Giving of the gifts
In our house we don’t wake up to presents. We’re older now and there is no need for that sort of thing, so we’re told. It’s a formal affair that has lost its fun.

Christmas Dinner
Ah yes, the one time of the year where the adults spent hours in the kitchen preparing a feast beyond all proportions as though Jesus himself were to join us at the table. In fact, it’s just the four of us and we’re forced to eat under-cooked Brussels sprouts, watered-down gravy, under-cooked potatoes, turkey, carrots and no stuffing because Dad forgot it.



The fight after dinner
After dinner we sit in front of the TV with a beer and hope that there isn’t too much fighting about what we’re watching. Some chance.

Lets just get through the night together. Forget about everything going on. Put on the façade that we’re all okay.

Boxing Day
This is Christmas for me. Hang out with my cousins and get merry. This year was sponsored by the antics of 7 year-old Ethan.


And now I pack up my things from the room with the single bed.
Until next year.

Christmas is the Disneyfication of Christianity

I’ve decided, after much consideration, I don’t like Christmas.

There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.

Oh I used to love Christmas, the presents were the best part, of course — as a child in this Western society I always had high hopes at this time of year and naturally they were never fulfilled as much as I would have liked, but still the house was awash with remnants of wrapping paper, bits of toys that had been left while I occupied myself with whatever new present had taken my fancy for those 5 minutes.

Mother would be upset at the fact that I got too many presents. Father would get upset with Mother.

As time passed presents became less than expected.
As more time passed presents were no longer an issue.
But still, arguments of some sort ensued. Naturally.

Everyone has their expectations. These days all I hope for is the hang out with my cousins, enjoy some drinks and have some good times. I don’t expect presents. I get some, not many, but some. Either way, I don’t have expectations for any.

The true meaning of Xmas is an imaginary man who sees everything you do and rewards you if you’re good all year. Just like Santa.

After weeks of shopping it all comes down to one day. One meal. One, or two (or three or four families). Alcohol, sweets, presents. The usual crap. But still ONE day.

Those who believe in the Christian God will profess that the day is in honour of the birth of Jesus/God. That may be the meaning of Christmas for some. it’s irrelevant. Celebrations in December pre-date all the Christian motives. Moreso: If you believe in the Christian God, and even if you don’t, you’ll be aware that they also profess the meaning to be about peace, love and goodwill to all men.” But they don’t have a monopoly on that. Each are great aspirations and hopes to have, a turkey dinner and selection boxes are necessary for that.

Praying for it, spending a lot of money and creating a host of traditions will not fix it either. Just like Christianity itself, the real meaning is unique to everyone. To me. It’s just a few days to chill out in front of some really shit T.V.

I’m not bitter. I’m just pissed off at the pressure to perform and the family breakdowns as a result of expectations not met. Not next year!

christmas day

christmas day

christmas day

be merry

I’d just like to wish everyone who has visited my blog, commented, been in contact, encouraged me and those I’ve met as a result of the blog. It’s been a good year, but more on that later. Have a great Christmas!

we have light

Last night I was in Belfast city centre for the Christmas lights switch-on and opening evening of the Continental Market. A few thousand people gathered outside the City Hall as some aweful “celebrities” entertained the  crowd with their awful singing. Once the Lord Mayor had said a few words the lights around the city hall and on the tree went on and the gates to the market, on the City Hall grounds, were opened (after about 15mins waiting).

But this is what I was here for, the lights the atmosphere, the people. With everything in the same layout as previous years, it somehow adds to the potential Christmas feel, or at least what I have come to think of as Christmas in Belfast. It smells good and tastes good. Especially the mulled wine!

Here are a few photos from the grounds of the City Hall:

more photos on flickr as always