Here's how to play the 12 Pubs of Christmas, an Irish tradition with bizarre rules and plenty of booze
Life & Style

Here's how to play the 12 Pubs of Christmas, an Irish tradition with bizarre rules and plenty of booze

IT'S THAT time of year again.

We're almost midway through December: Irish mammies everywhere are frantically hiding the 'good biscuits', Irish immigrants across the globe are preparing to return home for the holidays, and all around Ireland groups of friends are organising the annual drunken pilgrimage-- The 12 Pubs of Christmas.

It's a relatively new tradition but a tradition nonetheless, and one which only becomes more popular as each year goes by.

The rules, while bizarre and numerous, are simple-- visit twelve different pubs in one night, spend 30 minutes and have a drink in each, wear the ugliest Christmas jumper you own, and strictly abide by the laws of each pub.

The rules differ from group to group, and you can always add some or take some away to make the night easier-- or more difficult-- but if you've never played before, here's a plan to get you started.

The First Pub: No First Names

Hopefully you know the group you're making the pilgrimage with pretty well, because you'll either have to refer to them only by their last names or by a nickname, because if you call someone by their actual first name and someone calls you out on it-- that's a penalty drink.

(PS: You can also swap the 'penalty drinks' for a 'shame bell' that you can ring any time someone breaks a rule, because having to down shots when you're not in the mood is honestly shite craic.)

The Second Pub: No Pointing

If you've ever used this rule while playing a game of Kings or something to that effect, you'll realise just how difficult this is. We're an illustrative people-- we point and gesture a lot. But if you forget yourself and point in the second pub-- that's a penalty drink.

The Third Pub: Wrong-handed Drink

Simple enough: if you're right-handed, drink with your left hand. If you're left-handed, vice-versa. And if you forget-- you better believe that's a penalty drink.

Fourth Pub: Shot Pub

Maybe keep this one for a pub you're not super excited to hang around in all that long-- maybe it's really small, really loud, really quiet or just a bit weird. Head up to the bar, get your shot and move on to the next one.

Fifth Pub: No Swearing

Can you imagine how f*****g hard this will be? It's f*****g hard enough for 99% of us not to swear even when we're stone cold f*****g sober, imagine it after 4 f*****g pubs. F***.

Sixth Pub: Speak in an Accent

Dodgy British, Australian and American accents all around. Sláinte!

Seventh Pub:  The Penguin

Make your way from the sixth pub to the seventh pub waddling like a penguin all the while. The bigger the group, the more hilarious this looks. It might be an idea to make sure these two pubs are pretty close together, unless waddling from one end of town to the other is your idea of a good time (And if it is, we're not judging!). Once you get to the next pub however, you've already completed the rule so you can just relax and have a normal drink.

Eighth Pub: The Chalice

Raise your pint up high in salute to your fellow revellers-- and keep it there the entire time, lowering it only to take a drink from your glass. You'll likely be a little wobbly at this point of the trip, so watch yourself!

Ninth Pub: Selfie with a Stranger

We're a friendly bunch even when stone cold sober, so this one should be no problem. Find a friendly looking stranger and ask them to take a selfie with you. But if they're not up for it, accept it, move on and ask someone else; don't be a mog.

Tenth Pub: Never Have I Ever

The guaranteed way to ensure everyone present wakes up with the fear the next day. Have a round of Never Have I Ever and spill your most embarrassing secrets. You're ten drinks deep, after all.

Eleventh Pub: The Dancing Eejit

You can guess-- get up on that dance floor and make an absolute fool of yourself. At least it's intentional this time.

Twelfth Pub: Sláinte!

Congratulations lads, you've made it. You've succeeded in the (not so) ancient Irish tradition of the 12 Pubs of Christmas. And the rule for the last pub is... there are no rules. Relax and enjoy your drink-- you've earned it.


It's important to keep in mind that this is a game, and games are supposed to be fun-- so if you're feeling a little worse for wear, don't feel pressured into carrying on, and keep drinking water throughout the night!