Some people in Ireland consider the 8th December as the ‘official’ start of the Christmas season.
Why is that?
Because it was traditionally the time when people started preparing for Christmas, and a time when people from the countryside visited Dublin to do Christmas shopping.
But why the 8th of December?
Well, it’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the catholic church, and traditionally catholic schools would close for the feast day and give children the day off school.
What is the Immaculate Conception?
I’ve come across many catholics who don’t really know what this feast day is all about.
We’ve all probably heard the biblical story about how the Mary becomes pregnant with Jesus after being visited by the Holy Spirit, and without having had sexual intercourse. Hence why Mary is called a virgin.
But this isn’t a celebration of Jesus being immaculately conceived – but about Mary herself.
Yes, not only was Jesus meant to have been conceived without Mary and Joseph having some sexy time, but Mary was also miraculously conceived with the intervention of God by her parents Ann and Joachim who were infertile.
Why is this important? Well the church has this concept of original sin, which suggests that all men are inherently full of sinful lust, and thus anyone being born after their parents have sex inherits a pre-disposition to be sinful.
So the idea is that because Ann wasn’t impregnated by Joachim, then Mary was herself born without original sin – and therefore Mary is considered to be a pure untainted person that is worthy to give birth to son of God.
At least that’s what the catholic church say. If you want more about this then check out Wikipe
The influx of the culchies in Dublin
Before the advent of online shopping, out-of-town retail parks, or Black Friday sales, Dublin city would be flooded by people from the countryside (often called ‘culchies’) on the 8th December. It was a one of the biggest pre-Christmas shopping days for Dublin’s retailers.
All the roads leading to Dublin would be congested, and the buses and trains filled to the brim with shoppers. It would get so busy that Dubliners themselves would often stay at home to avoid the crowd!