We still remember Christmas

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Our EVS volunteers, Kate and Andrea, experienced Christmas time in different locations: Leitrim and Vigo (Spain).

Christmas holiday in Leitrim

Christmas is over but this magic time full of lights, Christmas trees, decorations, gifts is still in our memory.

What does Christmas  look like in  rural Leitrim? Kate spent Christmas with a Ballinaglera family  and experienced a traditional irish festival.

Christmas Eve began with Christmas Mass in Saint Hugh’s Catholic Church. Maybe you already know that in Ballinaglera each person is in some way a musician. The choir at Mass consisted of local ordinary people and for sure you could not see the difference between this and a professional one. Famous «Hallelujah» and «We wish you a Merry Christmas» bonded everybody.

After mass but before the children went to bed, the family put milk and cookies for Santa in front of the chimney and carrot for reindeers. Our family really takes care of Santa.

Christmas day started with cheerful shouts and screaming not only from children, everybody was delighted to see what Santa brought for them (including earrings for Kate!). The cookies and carrots had disappeared as you might have guessed.

Christmas dinner or lunch is the next part of enjoyment. The table groaned under the food: duck with gravy, bacon, all kinds of vegetables and Christmas pudding at the end. Thank God everybody survived – it was delicious!

Christmas holiday in Spain

Christmas is an important event in Spain, not just because of the religious connotation but also family gatherings. December 24th evening is the most important celebration. Families have dinner together enjoying a wide range of delicious meals: seafood, smoked salmon and salad for starters following by roasted lamb with gravy or steamed cod with cauliflower. For dessert different choices are available on the table: cheesecake, apple pie, turron, raisins and dates. During the meal we share our memories and usually speak about our lives and politics.

New Year’s Eve is an important celebration too. It’s not as intimate and quiet as Christmas Eve but there’s one important tradition. Twelve seconds before 12.00 am we sit around the table and eat  twelve grapes. Each grape symbolizes each month of the year and they have to be eaten with every clock stroke. The tradition started in 1909 due to a grape harvest surplus in Alicante. It’s a way to say goodbye to the previous year and start the new one with the best of luck!

The night of 5th of January is the most important celebration for kids! We commemorate the  time when, according to Christian religion, The three Wise Men brought presents to Jesus. That night, presents appear under the Christmas tree and the day after all family enjoy together their new gifts.

Christmas is a period of joy and social events.  It’s about spending time with important people in your life and sharing your food and time with them!

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Dec 25: A truly international Christmas

GEAI members and volunteers may be involved in the campaign against global warming but they certainly increased their carbon footprint this Christmas!  One of the surprising features of  GEAI is the number of members who are not originally from Ireland, and the number of local Leitrim people is definitely in the minority.   And, no more than our own Irish emigrants who came back to Ireland, our members travelled home (or at least out of Leitrim) at Christmas-time.  This week, members are back from Belgium, Portugal, Spain, UK (London) and Hungary.

What an eclectic group!  All have stories to tell and the stories about customs in different countries are fascinating.  Do you know that, in Ukraine, Christmas is hardly celebrated at all?  The real Ukrainian religious festival is on 6th January and marks the end of a 40-day fast.  The festival goes on for two days and gifts are given, no doubt in memory of the three Wise Men that came from the East.  Because today is 6th January, our Ukrainian volunteer Olga will prepare a traditional Ukrainian dinner to mark the day.  In Ireland, 6th January is Little Christmas or Nollag na mBan, so we will combine the two traditions by providing Irish hospitality in its truest form and celebrate in style!

Dec 19: Christmas Concert and Party

Our final event of the year – Ballinaglera Christmas Concert and Party on 19th December.  This was a fun night with a “surprise” visit by Santy to local children, all of whom had a great time.  Parents also enjoyed themselves with musical entertainment and mulled wine and mince pies at the interval.   Irina was in charge of the mulled wine and gave the event a real continental feel; Olga did face-painting and kept the children amused; and Santi prepared the way for Santy!  Local musicians and singers provided the entertainment and Padraig Loughlin gave an impromtu performance at the end of the night that made the evening!

Many thanks to our volunteers and to all who helped out on the night.  And a Very Happy Christmas to all our friends!  See you in the New Year!

Celebrating Christmas with our new Website

Happy Christmas to all our supporters!  May we all have a happy and peaceful Christmas and a Joyous New Year.  2014 was an exciting year for GEAI and 2015 promises to be even busier with new campaigns and new projects.

Enjoy our new-look Website!  All the GEAI team have worked hard to give the website a new emphasis and a completely new look.

The main changes:

  • Our new banner created by Olga, our Ukrainian volunteer.
  • Two menus –  one giving details of Good Energies, our aims, structures and people; the other highlighting our campaigns and issues we are interested in.
  • New section on Climate Change and new look to our section on Fracking
  • New news items and a new section on our doings day by day.
  • Sections on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies will be added soon.

We hope you enjoy our website and..,. Happy Browsing!

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