Reading My Way Around the World

Saturday 4 January 2014

Nollaig na mBan - Women's Christmas

In parts of Ireland, particularly the South West of the country, the 6th January or Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas is also known as Women's Christmas, or Women's Little Christmas - when the hard working women put up their feet after the long Christmas period and the men took over to do all the cooking and cleaning.  In some parts children bought presents for their mothers and grandmothers that day but that has now been taken over by Mothers Day.  It's still a very common practice in Kerry and Cork, where restaurants report almost 100% female clientele  on that night according to the Discover Ireland website.

Nollaig na mBan - pronounced nu-llig nah man - was totally new to me until last year when one of my neighbours decided to revive the tradition up here ...

We were more than 50 women together, enjoying left overs from everyone's Christmas and a good old natter - a wonderful extension of the Christmas festivities.  Looking forward to a repeat of it this year.

Traditions are changing now .... Everyone's back to work on Monday 6th this year .... When I was at school the 6th January was a holy day - nothing started back until the 7th and if by some stroke of bad luck that we had to go back to school on the 3rd or 4th we still always had the 6th off.

The tree always stayed up until the 6th as well - it was considered bad luck to take it down early ..... I'm so tempted to clear everything away today but I probably won't - chicken! ... it seems silly having it up until Monday and then having to face it at the start of a busy week ... but the child in me still wants to keep the smell of pine needles in the house and the air of the holidays still around.

It's sad too to put away all the cards, but I love having one last read of everyone's messages, reply to a couple more emails and get the place ready for the new session of classes, bookings and creative projects to tackle.  

Here's a lovely song from 4 gorgeous women - T with the Maggies are Mairead from Altan, Moya from Clannad and Triona and Mairead from the Bothy Band.   Singing Mother Song

What are you doing to end the holiday?   Will you leave your tree and decorations until the last minute or did you have them cleared away on Boxing Day?

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