As crazy as it sounds, ‘tis the season!
November 12th marked the first of the official holiday light festivities in Dublin, happening on Henry Street. A majority of students were eager to go; with the spirit upon us, it wasn’t a tough decision. Three of my good friends and I arrived just past four, after a quick run to Simon’s Place—which has excellent cinnamon rolls—and were able to take in the sights of the Christmas tidings greeting us on Henry Street. In the windows of one department store are Lego towns, constructed into scenarios from Star Wars and James and the Giant Peach, as well as a Night Before Christmas-esque bedroom. Christmas ornaments have been hung up inside of shops, white lights twinkle overhead outside, holiday sales and fashion are marketed, and a wintery darkness settles over the city quite early. I was continuously surprised that evening to remember that it wasn’t even quite the middle of November.
It didn’t feel that way, certainly. The hashtag Dublin at Christmas was popularized for the event, and that alone was enough to set the mood. With performances starting at five, we made our way to the stage area twenty minutes before; just before five the host welcomed everyone there, which constituted almost half of the street! Nobody, it seemed, had been in a rush to get there for a “good spot”, and nobody pushed anyone around as can happen in America. Instead, kids with Christmas tree hats were plopped on top of their parents’ heads, everyone danced to the music, and collectively we enjoyed the start of the spirit that will seize the coming month and a half.
On November 15th, Grafton Street held their lighting festivities as well. A few of us arrived closer to the end of the performances, but none of the magic was lost on us. As with the first event, everyone counted down in a giddy, new year, new holiday season manner, the lights strung up between the buildings glimmered to life, and red, white, and green confetti danced on the breeze. Street performers grabbed their guitars and played holiday tunes while young children jumped into the circle of people and danced. A doorman stood by with holly in his top hat, and I was transported to moments I’ve lived through the television or in movies. Fantastical elements of the season that never before took hold in my present life, but that have materialized in Dublin and will forever remain with me as being that magical Christmas season, when it welcomed me with open arms in Ireland.
While I can’t really begin listening to Christmas music until the few days before Thanksgiving, I can always surround myself with the spirit of the Christmas season. There is so much happiness to be had, and so much love and cheer that oozes from most everyone. I enjoy the season more than I enjoy the actual twenty-fifth of December solely because the preparations for that day are always exciting and can’t tear the smile from my face. And within four days, I have attended the festivities for two main street decorative lightings with plans to attend the rest.
Magic envelops the holiday season for me, and Dublin adds to that. Its glorious architecture stands erect, its country’s flag rustles with the wind, its people and visitors bundle up and revel in the beauty, and all unite to form pure joy.
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Fall 2015
Writing, Literature & Publishing Major at Emerson College
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