Christmas Eve in Dublin

24th December 1760
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During the reign of the four Georges (aka the Georgian period 1714 – 1830) the Puritan ban on Christmas allowed it become a popular celebration among the people of Great Britain and Ireland again. Some of its fun and charm can be found described this report from Georgian Dublin on Christmas Eve 1760:

Even though under the Puritan rule of Oliver Cromwell around 1600, many a Christmas Carol were discontinued or banned as they were inappropriate for the solemnity of the church and festive get-together were deemed far too frivolous and against the law, with the restoration of Charles II, Christmas charm was re-inducted. 

Reflections on Christmas  

Sir, this being the season of the year, which according to the ancient prerogatives of Irishmen, introduces a general scene of sociableness, hospitality, and good living, I cannot walk through any of the highstreets of this metropolis but I meet with objects which raise in me several pleasing reflections. 

As I took a turn in the city on Wednesday last, I was struck with admiration at the numbers of porters I met, bending under heavy loads of country delicacies; one was bearing on his back all the variety of a poulterer’s shop, while another was no less fatigued under the weight of chines and hams of bacon. Nor were our citizens less grateful to their country correspondents, but I observed were very busy dispatching away their quotas of spice, plumbs, sugar, rice, wine, etc. This sociable commerce for the promoting of good fellowship, and these mutual exports and imports raised in me a strong idea the good nature of our Irish ancestors, who first gave - a foundation to this custom. But what delighted me most, the stately ranges of various eatables in the different markets, I mean those substantial joints of fine beef and mutton, for which our island is remarkable: I could not help thinking that foreigners would with wonder look those grand carcasses as so many emblems of Hibernian strength. When these are placed on our tables, who without contempt, can behold the fricassees, the ragouts, the soup meagres, and all the other kickshaws of French and Italian cookery?

I continued in such reflections in favour of my countrymen until the luscious preparatives of the pastry-cooks flung me into a different way of thinking. I could not without some concern, behold the heaps of waste paper in each shop, which were destined for the oven.  I considered them the miscellaneous productions of authors of all professions, who never would have wrote, could they have foreseen the fate of their writings. The pleasure I have received from the paper which, wrapped a custard, or the wise maxims have collected from the bottom of a mince-pye, have armed me with philosophy enough not to be under any concern about the future fate of those lucubrations, tho’ they should happen be condemned to the same uses. 

From the preparations of keeping Christmas here in Dublin, I began to reflect on the good old Irish hospitality which used once to reign in the country at this season when the nobility gentry put on the good-natured familiarity, which never failed gaining them the love and interest of those people among whom they resided. But most of our modern gentry have taken a method of keeping Christmas very different from that of their ancestors: A person of fashion, a nobleman, is usually as great a stranger to his tenants and neighbouring gentlemen of small fortunes as if his estate was a plantation in the Indies. – Could our fine gentlemen and courtiers be persuaded to Iay aside their pleasures and ambition for a few weeks, and reside among those people who support them;  reside among them at other times besides those when they have Favours to ask of them, they would find it more in their power to serve both their Country and their King. 

Dublin Courier (Wednesday 24 December 1760

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