Irish language

Things ain't what they used to be when it comes to Christmas

THE VIEW FROM DIVIS: The Bluffer likes going up Divis at Christmas and is never put off by snow because of the great views you can get of Black Mountain and Belfast in the great beyond
Robert McMillen


Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh agus bhur gcéad míle fáilte isteach chuig the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

“Fings ain’t wot they used to be,” sang Max Bygraves back in the 1960s and the sentiment is certainly true about an Nollaig - Christmas.

An téamh domhanda - global warming has lessened the chances of us seeing a white Christmas; ríomhphost - e-mail means we aren’t sending as many cartaí Nollag - Christmas cards as we used to; siopadóireacht ar líne - on line shopping means there aren’t as many people in our city centres looking for cut-price cumhrán - perfume and lóis iarbhearrtha - aftershave; train sets and babóga - dolls and prams have been replaced with gadgets that substitute imagination rather than developing it.

We even have bloody Ed Sheeran covering the Pogues and Kirsty McColl’s Fairytale of New York. Is nothing sacred?

And speaking of sacred, wasn’t Christmas a religious festival when Christians celebrated the birth of Iosa Críost - Jesus Christ? What ever happened to that, eh?

Well of course ,people all over the world still do celebrate a religious Christmas and the fact that Xmas has become a maelstrom of consumerism doesn’t mean that everyone gets caught up on the madness.

Back in the days when life in Ireland was more like a scene from Blackadder the Third, Kevin Danaher’s The Year in Ireland tells us that: “The weather on Christmas Eve was significant. Cold weather, with sioc - frost or sneachta - snow was welcomed, as this indicated a mild Spring and an absence of illness.

“When it snowed on Christmas Eve, children were told that geese were being plucked in heaven. And a new moon on Christmas Eve was a very lucky omen.”

The Irish for Christmas Eve is Oíche Nollag so you would say tá Daidí na Nollag ag teacht oíche Nollag - Father Christmas is coming on Christmas Eve, for example,

Christmas Day is Lá Nollag when you have your turcaí - turkey and liamhas - ham and the children complain that their toys are cheaper versions of the ones they had specifically requested (haven’t they heard of the recession?) and granda falls asleep on the rocking chair.

This, dear followers of the Bluffer, is just a stereotype of course and many families are having to do it differently this year.

There are the people who will be working le linn na Nollag - throughout Christmas, dochtúír - doctors and banaltraí - nurses of course and the other seirbhísí éigeandála - emergency services.

And then there are those gan dídean - without shelter and homeless; there are people who are ill in hospital; there are the bereaved and there are those who are simply uaigneach - lonely.

An increasing amount of people can’t be part of the new, money-centred event that Christmas has become and this is the time to reach out to the less fortunate.

Those of us who have blessings to count, let’s do that and enjoy the presents we get and the love that is shared amongst friends and family at this time of year - but go easy on the Bailey’s.



an Nollaig (un nuleeg) - Christmas

An téamh domhanda (un chayoo dowamda) - global warming 

ríomhphost (reeoofust) - e-mail 

cartaí Nollag (caartee nullug) - Christmas cards 

siopadóireacht ar líne (shuppadoreakht er leena) - on line shopping

cumhrán (cooraan) -- perfume 

lóis iarbhearrtha (loshe eervarha) -- aftershave

babóga (babawga) - dolls 

Íosa Críost (eesa creest) -- Jesus Christ 

sioc (shuck) -- frost

sneachta (shnyakhta) -- snow 

Oíche Nollag (eeha nullug) -- Christmas Eve

tá Daidí na Nollag ag teacht oíche Nollag (taa daaddee ne nullug eg chakht eeha nullug) -- Father Christmas is coming on Christmas Eve, 

Lá Nollag (laa nullug) -- Christmas Day

turcaí (turkee) -- turkey 

liamhas (leeawas) -- ham

dochtúír (dokhtoor) - doctors 

banaltraí (banaltree)- nurses

seirbhísí éigeandála (sherveeshee aygandala) - emergency services 

gan dídean (gun jeejaan) - without shelter

uaigneach (ooeenyakh) - lonely

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access


Irish language

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: