If the Christmas decorations are still up, there is no need to panic. Few people in Ireland have taken theirs down yet, and few people will until January 7th. Why would anyone take their decorations down when the Christmas season has not ended? We still have Nollaig na mBan coming up on the 6th of January.
In Ireland, Christmas is not over until after Nollaig na mBan, which translates as Women’s Christmas, and is also known as Little Christmas. On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Irish tradition is that the women who worked so hard cooking, cleaning, shopping and decorating for Christmas should have a day of rest and recreation. (Lads, if it is not clear, that means your mother and/ or your wife.) The men take on the work usually done by the women in the family. Children would also give gifts to their mothers and grandmothers. In today’s world where those old stereotypical divisions of labor have largely gone by the wayside, it can be a day for a girlie get together. Few matriarchs in modern Ireland spent Christmas plucking a goose as their foremother might have, but mothers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief when school re-opens, so there’s another reason for moms to take a day for themselves and maybe even treat themselves to some Irish gifts and snacks.
Although the traditions of Nollaig na mBan are fading, women do still celebrate the day and you’ll see groups of women out enjoying themselves in cafes and pubs around Ireland. The old tradition seems to be strongest today in Munster, particularly in County Cork and County Kerry. Generations ago, the 6th of January was the only day of the year a group of respectable women could go to the local pub without risking a scandal, so of course they took advantage of the opportunity. Now it seems we are all so busy it is hard to arrange a night out with the girls, so the day gives us a good excuse. And who would turn down Irish gifts from the children any day of the year?
If you are thinking of hosting a Nollaig na mBan party for your gal pals, you could head to the nearest Irish pub or you could have a more relaxed gathering at home, especially if you received some nice Irish gifts such as Belleek tableware or linens for Christmas. You can cater it to your own tastes and serve anything from soda bread with tea to chocolates and Irish coffee. And if you are looking for the perfect Nollaig na mBan gift, you couldn’t do better than a mug or plaque with the Amazing Woman verse on it.
“Recipe for an Amazing Woman: Start with faith and honesty, mix in pure humility, add in strength of character that rises above the stress of life’s surprises, fold in personality, toss in generosity, pour in love from a heart that’s true. Yield: One terrific, amazing you.”
Check out some of our “Amazing Woman” items at IrishShop.com: