Yule Blog

It’s Christmas Eve at last. This morning I ventured out briefly to buy a newspaper. That was more problematic than I’d anticipated as most newsagents in Maynooth had sold out of the Irish Times. There won’t be an edition until next Monday so people had got theirs early. I did eventually manage to find a copy however and did the Christmas Crosaire crossword when I got back home.

With that errand out of the way it is now my plane to stay at home alone until Sunday 27th at the earliest. The reason for that is the very dangerous Covid-19 situation, with another 922 cases reported today. Cases in Ireland aren’t as high as in many other European countries but are going quicker than any at this time. The official advice is to minimize social interactions over the Christmas period, so I’m doing that. Zero is the minimum in my case.

In case you think I’ll be miserable here on my own, I assure you that I won’t. I’ve got plenty of things to do, and plenty to eat and drink. I’m quite proud of the fact that I bought six bottles of wine last weekend and managed not to drink any until today!

I’m not myself of that faith (or indeed any) but I understand it is a Catholic tradition to eat fish the day before a Feast Day. This evening I’ll be cooking Sea Bass with a lemon and dill sauce and Mediterranean roast vegetables. That’s not because I’m becoming a Catholic but because of balance for the next two days. To go with the fish I’ll be drinking a nice Pouilly-Fumé. I’ll bore you with the menu for the next two days when I get to them (assuming no culinary disasters).


I know it doesn’t look great – the fish didn’t want to come out in one piece – but it tasted delicious!

Incidentally, it is interesting that almost nobody here uses “Boxing Day” to refer to the day after Christmas Day. It’s “St Stephen’s Day” or just “Stephens Day”.

I realized this morning that this will be the very first Christmas I’ve ever spent outside the United Kingdom. The vast majority of Christmases Past I’ve been in Newcastle, but I have also over the years been in Brighton, London, Nottingham and Cardiff at this time of year.

I’ll end with the official Christmas greetings from Maynooth University!

5 Responses to “Yule Blog”

  1. Phillip Helbig Says:

    “The vast majority of Christmases Past I’ve been in Newcastle”

    Yes, in the old days, it was a custom to carry Coles to Newcastle. 🙂

  2. Don’t recall the tradition of eating fish the day before a feast day. I’m old enough to remember when we had fish on Fridays, and also on ‘fast days’ such as Ash Wednesday (when you were allowed one meal and two ‘snacks’).

    Our local ‘chippy’ was hence really busy on a Friday and not-so-much the rest of the week – until they diversified and started selling meat pies, battered sausages etc.

    • telescoper Says:

      I think it’s more an Italian thing than Irish, to be honest; see https://www.catholicsun.org/2018/12/22/tradition-and-heritage-fish-for-christmas-eve/

      • Phillip Helbig Says:

        Other places have the big meal on Christmas Day. Germany is one. We aren’t religious, but we usually eat fondue on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Eve.

        The traditional German meal for Christmas eve is sausages with potato salad. 😐

        Of course, the main tradition for New Year’s Eve is Dinner For One. Many are laughing so hard by the end that they miss the great punchline.

        Fortunately, covid brings some good things, like a fireworks ban this year. 😐

      • Finally saw Dinner for One last year when a German colleague told me about it. Freddie Frinton, one of the stars, was quite well known in the UK in the 1960’s for his sitcom Meet the Wife, which I (just about) remember. He was very good at playing drunk!

        I could understand people finding Dinner for One funny back in the 1960’s, but nowadays?

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