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Saturday, 22nd June 2024

Irish Born Chinese

Growing up and my experience with Christmas

Created Thursday, 8th December 2011, 16:20 by Whykay
Growing up in Ireland, Christmas is very special to many of my friends. I never understood what it was all about when I was a couple of years old. My earliest memories were lots of people, some faces I recognised, some not so much, at our restaurant. The restaurant would be closed early on Christmas eve for a big Christmas party. Mostly they are people who would talk (pretty boring when you are a few years old), smoke, drink brandy, and play mahjong (not the computer game), see

These special occassions mean I’ll stand and watch the guys play, some would ask me to fetch Chinese tea, or order some fried rice. If I was lucky and someone wins, and I was standing right beside them, I’d get something like IE£5/10/20. That’s a lot of money in the early 80s. 

When the main dinner is ready, it’s normally Chinese food, not turkey, everyone takes their seats and the restaurant is just jammed packed. Afterwards, the tables are cleared, people get ready to play (Chinese) dominoes, see and cards. Some would head upstairs to play more mahjong. All these games are played thoughout the night till whatever early wee hours in the morning. 

So this is how Chinese celebrate anything, food, drink and gambling games. So Christmas to me was the same as Chinese New Year, except people wish people with different well wishes depending on what occasion it was. The only difference with Christmas was that there’s Christmas decorations everywhere, I was allowed to put up the tree and decorate it in the restaurant. This was my family tradition until about 10 years or so ago, the staff took over decorating the place. I was a bit disapointed at first as it was something we did as a family, but I suppose the delight of putting Christmas decorations up lost its appeal to some of my brothers as they were older by then.

Recent memories when I am down home with family, the staff Christmas dinner is still held on Christmas Eve. It’s a lot smaller now, there’s no gambling anymore, no mahjong, dominoes or cards. The dinner is mainly Chinese, so that’s still the same, proper Chinese fare. Mom would have the turkey roasting in the oven in the kitchen, but that’s for Christmas Day dinner at home. We don’t have an oven at home. Over the years, we go home late at night after the dinner, and presents were opened after we got home, we would pick at the roast turkey, and look forward to Christmas day as it’s the day when the whole family and relatives get together.

When I was growing up, I didn’t see much of my parents, so Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day has always been something special as the restaurant only closes two days a year. Although my mother would head out to the restaurant to prepare for business on the 27th. I use to tag along to help out with the tidy up and getting some stuff ready. 

Now that I’m married and we have our own place, it’s slightly different. We don’t do decorations as much because we are basically lazy, but I try my hand at roasting turkey one year, goose another year. Learnt how to roast spuds, lamb, ham, it’s so much work, but was so worth it and so yummy. I maybe just catching up to how most people celebrate their holidays, all in all, as long as everyone is happy and healthy, that would be two thumbs up for me.

Now I’m wondering what other IBCs do for Christmas when they were younger and is it any different in how they celebrate it now that they are grown up?