Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 16: Ireland Wren Day

Day 16 of our Advent Calendar and today we are headed to the Emerald Isle, Ireland,  to look at the tradition of the Wren Day. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!


When many of us are celebrating Boxing Day on December 26th, in Ireland the day is traditionally known as the Wren Day, or Hunt of the Wren Day, Lá an Dreoilín in Gaelic. Up until the 21st century, it was customary to hold a bird hunt, to hunt a wren, and then hang the hunted bird in a net from a pitchfork and walk it through the town in a parade. Nowadays the hunt is usually skipped, or a fake bird is used instead. The parade consists of mummers, dressed up in masks, straw suits and colourful clothing, playing music and singing songs. The parades are sometimes called wrenboys and often at the end of the day, special parties, or ‘Wren balls’ are held.

There are several theories on the origins of the tradition. Some say it’s a Celtic tradition, the others claim a Norse origin, and there is also a claim that it is a Christian tradition. Whatever the true origin, the tradition is fundamentally Irish. A good, lively way to burn calories off after Christmas dinner.


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Ireland Marco Polo Spiral Guide

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