Americans have Black Friday. The Irish have something far more frightening. Culchie Shopping Day.
They rose before the first light yesterday, hustling to get ready for the planned assault on the nation’s capital. Taking sandwiches and biscuits along with bags for the loot they expected to bring home, they left their homes early to travel to Dublin. The earlier they got there the better. It wouldn’t be a surprise attack, but they knew the importance of getting into strategic positions along Grafton Street and Henry Street before the locals could. Their hearts pounded with anticipation of the battles to come and the treasures they would bring home. No matter what obstacles lay ahead, they knew victory would be theirs.
In the city and suburbs, the air was thick with dread. Everyone knew what was coming that day. And they knew that while public transportation would be rendered useless by the invaders, they had no choice but to leave their comfortable homes and journey to the center of their beloved city. It would take courage and cunning, but Dubliners are known for those very qualities. They have fought off worse. It would be a long, hard day, and they knew hand to hand combat was unavoidable. Kissing their children and acting like it just a normal December day, the denizens of Dublin made their way to the city center, avoiding main roads and public transportation. Neither their enemies nor their employers would show them any mercy; that much was certain.
Shopping Bags at Dawn
Every December it happens. Generation after generation has done it. On the 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a very messy battle is waged in Dublin. That is the day that the culchies invade. From every townland and bog they come to do their Christmas shopping en mass in Dublin on that one day. They seize all modes of public transportation, showing no mercy to locals trying to get to work. They fight tooth and nail for the last of this year’s most desired toys while Dubliners who failed to get the most important items from their children’s Christmas lists before December 8th sit in cubicles throughout the city silently raging and cursing. In breakrooms north and south of the Liffey the volume is louder, and transplanted culchies invent reasons to avoid their coworkers, sick with the knowledge that their own families are out there, taking over the city and perhaps even buying something for them, while their coworkers stagger into work, tattered and disheveled from the treacherous commute.
The journey home at the end of the day will be worse, much worse. Not only are the culchies able to get to the train stations earlier to get the seats, they are bringing four to six times their own body weight home in gifts. The luggage racks and overhead storage will be perilously full. It won’t be possible to find a spot even to sit on the floor. No, it isn’t realistic to try to commute home until much, much later. Dubliners are left with only one realistic option. They must seize their rightful places in the city’s pubs and have a pint with their coworkers before even attempting to get home.
Overnight, retail crews will work hard to restore order and restock shelves despite having served on the front lines all day. Their tireless bravery is seldom acknowledged, but perhaps someday, perhaps today, Dubliners can unite in saluting those who have kept the culchie hoards at bay by bravely serving behind tills amid the pandemonium of Culchie Shopping Day.
Perhaps someday, December 9th will be made an official holiday in their honor.