In Ireland, the Christmas festive season stretches out a lot longer than in many other places. Christmas Day isn’t the end. The 26th is St. Stephen’s Day, also known as Wren Day, which isn’t strictly linked to Christmas. It’s the feast of St. Stephen. It’s a popular day for chilling and visiting friends, and in rural villages the tradition of hunting the wren has evolved into a sort of pub crawl charity fundraising event. But that still isn’t the end of Christmas! Traditionally in Ireland, no one took down their Christmas decorations until after January 6th.
That day is Epiphany, and it in Ireland is it also Nollaig na mBan – Women’s Christmas. Traditionally, Christmas has involved a lot of what was once considered ‘women’s work’ – cleaning, decorating, cooking. The men would be out at Christmas parties, at the pub celebrating with friends, and the children would be going mad with excitement preparing for Santa’s visit. Meanwhile, the women were working feverishly to make everything wonderful for everyone. At some point, society realized this wasn’t exactly fair. The tradition developed of celebrating the women who worked so hard to make Christmas magical by giving them a with no housework. (Or maybe some of our foremothers had an epiphany of their own and said ‘sod this’ and gave themselves the day off!)
While society is moving toward a fairer split of domestic chores, the tradition of Nollaig na mBan continues. It’s a day for women to gather together for a laugh and a chat. The men of the household take over the cooking and cleaning, and children give their mothers gifts. It’s easy to overlook how much hard work mom put into Christmas until after the big dinner. But no matter where in the world you are, you can embrace Nollaig na mBan and give her a day of pampering and a wee gift.
Perfect Women’s Christmas Gifts for Mom
A perfect Women’s Christmas present is something small but special, something that offers a bit of luxury and pampering. Here are a few ideas for your mom this Nollaig na mBan.
- Belleek: Does she like a touch of elegance? Perhaps she’d like a piece of Belleek. What about a delicate vase or an exquisite gift box to hold her favorite piece of jewelry?
- Water Bottle: Is she making any health-related News Year’s resolutions? We all know drinking plenty of water is important for good health, so how about a cute Irish theme water bottle? She won’t get it mixed up with the million plain ones at the gym.
- Mug: Most Irish people require regular mugs of tea, particularly on chilly winter days. A good cup of tea is the fuel that keeps many Irish mothers going. And enjoying it is almost a ritual. Does she have a mug that reminds her that she is treasured and deserves a tea break?
- Hat, Scarf, Gloves: Winter accessories are a perfect way to add some Irish style to her seasonal wardrobe. Maybe an Aran sweater or a marvellous Celtic cape are not in the budget, but you can still treat her to an Irish hat, scarf or pair of gloves that says you want her to take care of herself.
Whether they remember this tradition from home or this is the first they’ve heard of it, the ladies in your life are sure to appreciate a break and some appreciation on this Nollaig na mBan.