Christmas Around the World – Dublin, Ireland

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I tested my legs again this morning with mixed results.  I managed to make it about a mile with very little pain in my adductors/groin area but it started to get sharper about 15 minutes in.  I’m stuck between wanting to tough it out to get the miles in, and wanting to avoid a chronic injury.  Since I don’t have much material from an exercising or running standpoint, I thought we’d take a step over to the “Miles” part of the blog and re-live my Christmas spent in a different country.  Enjoy the story, I’ll be on the floor doing clock stretches.

Christmas in Ireland

Three years ago, during my first semester of my senior year at Rhodes College, I spent some time studying exploring Dublin, Ireland.  I was there from August to December and although I left before the actual Christmas holiday, there was plenty of time to enjoy the Christmas decor around the town – enjoy this excerpt from way back when.

Hugh Brown and James Thomas are two very important men in my life right now, and they’re dead.  In 1849, during the midst of an Industrial Revolution in Europe (one of the key issues I’m studying in one of my classes), Brown and Thomas came together to open this haberdashery on Grafton Street (one of the main pedestrian shopping streets in Dublin, I walk down it everyday to get to Trinity College).  The store took on the department store characteristics it has today in 1971 and is essentially Dublin’s own little Harrod’s (on a much smaller scale!).  Of course, I don’t actually go inside the store in my sloppy, comfortable running, touristy, student clothes – I would be immediately kicked out!  But I am allowed to slow my stroll to school down every morning to stare at their beautiful Christmas windows that were unveiled last week.

When the other stores on Grafton Street began decorating their windows for Christmas, Brown Thomas decided to build up the anticipation by covering theirs in black curtains with only a scene painted on the window and an invitation underneath, “Join us for the unveiling of the Windows!  Tuesday 6pm.”  Of course, as soon as they invited me, the grungy student tourist, I marked it in my diary (calendar) as something festive I wanted to do.  I invited Justine and Sally along for the date and we left the apartment a little late so we bustled through the chilly night to make sure we were on time.  When we arrived, it turned out most of Dublin had read the invitation too and Grafton Street was packed!  We pushed our way through to get as close as we could and made it far enough into the crowd to hear the announcer – but couldn’t see the windows.  The announcer was going on and on as announcers do, taking up time, getting the crowd excited and talking about the magic of Christmas.  By this point it was past six and I just wanted to what had been created behind the black curtains.  I was respectful though and started listening to the announcer when he said that they would also be lighting the Christmas lights on the street during this ceremony!  What an added bonus!  For about a week, Christmas lights had been hanging across the pedestrian path but weren’t lit yet and tonight was going to be the night they turned them on and I was going to see it!  First, a few key people had to be introduced: one of the Irish Hurlers (who had helped Ireland defeat Australia the Sunday before in a big match in Dublin) was going to help a little girl from the audience flip the switch and SANTA!  Santa gave a little speech to the boys and girls in the crowd, reminding them to be very, very, very good the next few weeks and to come visit him on the third floor of Brown Thomas.  He has perfected the Irish accent and until I heard him speak had never considered how many languages and accents he must have mastered.

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Finally, it was time.  All the speeches and well wishing out of the way, Santa started the crowd on a grand countdown.

10

9

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1!

Lights on!  Cheers from the crowd!  Bing Crosby singing I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas!  Fake snow falling on us!  I even got a little choked up.  It’s absolutely magical.  We weren’t close enough to see the windows and so decided to come back another day to take a look.  It’s Christmastime in the City!

So, from Ireland – Nollaig Shona Duit – Merry Christmas!

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