What Is An Irish Christmas Cupboard?

What Is An Irish Christmas Cupboard?

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Do you want to start celebrating Christmas like the Irish? Have you ever heard of an Irish Christmas cupboard and wondered what it is? An Irish Christmas cupboard, or ‘stór’ in Gaelic, is one of the most beautiful traditions of Ireland. According to folklorists and historians, this festive tradition can be traced back centuries when families would prepare their homes for the holiday season long before the holidays even started.

The Irish Christmas cupboard was usually in the kitchen or another part of the house where all the goodies and treats would be stored for the Christmas celebration. The cupboard could include Christmas cake, plum pudding, nuts, dried fruit, and many chocolate goodies. It is also a cupboard that would be well stocked with drinks for the Christmas celebration. The Irish Christmas cupboard was usually off-limits for everyone, especially the children.

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The Irish Christmas Cupboard Explained

The Irish Christmas Cupboard would usually be in the kitchen or any part of the house. The cupboard would get stocked up with all kinds of goodies, especially food and other items, during the months leading up to the Christmas celebration.

It was a place that was off-limits to the children. Goodies would be kept away from the children so they could enjoy the Christmas festivities. Many times, the children and others would try to sneak their way into the Christmas cupboard to find a Christmas treat before Christmas began.

The Irish Christmas Cupboard was also in Britain and other places to describe a cupboard set aside just for Christmas and Christmas treats. Often, this cupboard is called the ”Christmas Cupboard.” It is uncommon for people worldwide to have a place where they can store and keep things for Christmas.

Today, many families will have hiding places to put their Christmas gifts. Sometimes, they will buy these gifts ahead of time as they find them on sale or for a good deal; other times, they will place the gifts in the cupboard or in another location to hide them from the children and others.

Other families may have a Christmas Cupboard for storing drinks for the Christmas celebration. All types of wine and alcohol will be purchased and stored ahead of time.

Reasons For The Christmas Cupboard

There could be many reasons why someone will have a Christmas cupboard. Traditionally, in a place like Ireland, low-income and even mid-income families would have started to make their Christmas preparations ahead of time.

The families would start collecting food items they could easily store to help them defray the costs of Christmas while still having all the special Christmas goodies for the holiday season.

They would store ingredients for the Christmas cake and plum pudding, such as dried raisins, sultanas, currants, nuts, mixed fruit peels, cherries, and nuts. This would allow them to purchase these items over time and keep them in a cupboard so they have them ready to use for the Christmas holiday.

It also helped the families ensure they had these ingredients to make their special Christmas and other cakes when needed. And, of course, the Christma cupboard would also be filled with other goodies such as chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit. You may even find some unique Christmas cheeses in the cupboard.

Also, you will find in the kitchen cupboard some alcoholic drinks that will be ready to be served for the Christmas celebration. Along with this will be some of the traditional Christmas cakes and plum puddings.

The Christmas Cake – Made Well In Advance And Placed In The Cupboard

The Christmas cake is an example that would be made well in advance and then placed in the Christmas cupboard to mature.

The Christmas cake is usually baked 2 or 3 months ahead of time so that cake has plenty of time to mature. The Christmas cake is wrapped and placed in the cupboard as it needs proper time to mature. Today it is recommended that you only leave the cake outside the fridge for a month so it will not go bad.

The Christmas cake requires that you do not allow it to sit until Christmas, but the cake needs some tender loving care as you need to drizzle some cherry, rum, or brandy onto it every two weeks or at regular intervals.

Plum Pudding – A Christmas Treat Put In Christmas Cupboard

The English Plum Pudding is also called Christmas Pudding, Christmas Desert, or, as in the song, the ”We Wish You A Merry Christmas” Figgy Pudding.

Plum Pudding

The Plum Pudding is also a traditional Christmas dessert that would have been made ahead of time, placed in a cupboard, or stored until Christmas. The traditional Plum pudding is made six weeks before Christmas.

Some people even make the Plum puddings months or a year in advance; how long you make it depends on if you like your pudding to be well-aged.

Like the Christmas cake, the Christmas Plum pudding is also drizzled with alcohol the weeks or months before Christmas. When it is time for the pudding to be served for the Christmas meal, the plum pudding is doused with brandy and set alight right before serving.

The Christmas cake, the plum pudding, and all the other goodies would require some place to store them for the Christmas celebration. That is why there is the Irish Christmas cupboard or just a Christmas cupboard; it was a place to store things for the Christmas celebration.

10 Charms of an Irish Christmas: Why It’s Truly Magical

While many cultures worldwide celebrate Christmas enthusiastically, there’s something genuinely enchanting about how the Irish do it.

Not only do they have the Irish Christmas Cupboard, but here are ten reasons that make an Irish Christmas an unforgettable experience:

  1. Traditional Music Sessions: Walk into any local pub, and you’ll likely stumble upon a ‘seisiún’ – an impromptu gathering of musicians playing classic Irish tunes, adding a lively soundtrack to the festive season.
  2. The Wren Boys Procession: Stemming from an ancient tradition, on St. Stephen’s Day (December 26th), groups known as ‘Wren Boys’ dress up in old clothes, paint their faces, and parade around towns and villages in celebration.
  3. Midnight Mass: No matter the weather, many Irish folks attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The church bells, carol singing, and community make it a heartwarming experience.
  4. Candle in the Window: A beautiful Irish tradition where a single candle is lit and placed in the window on Christmas Eve, symbolizing a beacon of welcome for Mary and Joseph seeking shelter.
  5. Festive Foods: An Irish Christmas feast boasts delicious items like spiced beef (especially popular in Cork), smoked salmon, and the beloved Christmas pudding, often prepared weeks in advance.
  6. The Christmas Day Swim: For the brave-hearted, plunging into the freezing waters of the Irish Sea or the Atlantic has become a Christmas morning tradition, often done to raise money for charities.
  7. Nollaig na mBan: Celebrated on January 6th, this ‘Women’s Christmas’ or ‘Little Christmas’ is a day when men take over household duties, and women, after the busy festive season, get to relax and enjoy themselves.
  8. A Close-knit Celebration: Given Ireland’s relatively small size, many people return to their family homes from various parts of the country (or even abroad), ensuring a close-knit and intimate celebration.
  9. 12 Days of Christmas: While many places wind down the festivities after December 25th, in Ireland, celebrations extend till January 6th (Epiphany), ensuring ample time for merriment.
  10. The Irish Gift of the Gab: An Irish Christmas isn’t complete without storytelling. Gathered around roaring fireplaces, families share tales, memories, and laughter, encapsulating the heart and soul of the Irish spirit.

Christmas in Ireland is a blend of ancient traditions, rich culinary delights, heartwarming music, and the renowned Irish warmth. It’s a time when the Emerald Isle sparkles with an extra dash of magic, making it truly a season to cherish.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Christmas cupboard?

A Christmas cupboard is a pantry or cupboard that is stocked with food and treats for the Christmas season

What is the tradition of the Christmas cupboard?

The tradition of the Christmas cupboard is believed to have originated in Ireland and involves stocking up on food and treats in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

What kinds of food and treats are typically found in a Christmas cupboard?

A Christmas cupboard might contain items such as mince pies, Christmas puddings, fruitcake, chocolates, and other holiday treats.

Is the Christmas cupboard tradition still popular in Ireland today

Yes, the Christmas cupboard tradition is still popular in Ireland today, with many families continuing to stock up on food and treats in preparation for Christmas

Is there any specific way to organize a Christmas cupboard in Ireland?

There is no specific way to organize a Christmas cupboard in Ireland, but it is common to keep the items stocked neatly and to add new items as they become available.

How does the Christmas cupboard tradition reflect Irish culture and traditions?

The Christmas cupboard tradition reflects the importance of hospitality and generosity in Irish culture, as well as the emphasis on family and community during the holiday season.

Are there any superstitions or beliefs associated with the Christmas cupboard in Ireland?

Some people in Ireland believe that the Christmas cupboard should be left unlocked on Christmas Eve to allow good luck to enter the home.

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Anita L Hummel
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