Ladies, have you heard of Little Christmas or Nollaig na mBan? Do you celebrate it with your family or friends? Mark the date in your calendar and start making plans to celebrate Little Christmas and this important day for women.
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When I arrived in Ireland, the first Christmas I was here, one of my new Irish friends said to me she was going to a Little Christmas party and invited me to join her. I had no idea what that was, but I was happy to go along and enjoy the celebrations with her.
Now that I’ve been in Ireland for a long time, I’ve started marking the occasion myself.
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What is Little Christmas?
Little Christmas, also known as Nollaig na mBan, is celebrated every year on January 6th.
You might be more familiar with this date as being the Feast of the Epiphany, twelve days after Christmas Day.
It’s also the traditional end of the Christmas season, the day we take down the Christmas tree and pack away the Christmas decorations for another year.
Women’s Little Christmas was the traditional celebration when the nation’s womenfolk, after all the festive cooking and housework, were given their annual day off. The men would do a bit around the house so their other halves could go out for a bite to eat, a few drinks and generally have a good time without worrying that everything would go to ruin in their brief absence from the home.
Typically women would visit each other’s homes for tea, cake and chat. Another custom was the lighting of candles on the evening of the 6th, lighting candles in every room to celebrate the event.
While the original date might have signified a proper night off for women, nowadays it has become more a celebration of sisterhood and friendship, and why not? After all, we rely on our sisters, mothers, friends and the women in our lives as our support circle. So it’s nice to celebrate that with them.
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Some Ideas for How to Celebrate Little Christmas
Many restaurants and hotels offer Nollaig na mBan celebrations with food, entertainment, music, so check out hotels near you to see whether they are hosting a night out.
Arrange a get-together for lunch or dinner with your mum, sisters, cousins and other female relatives. Afternoon bubbles is always a treat, or go the traditional route and have tea and cake.
If you do plan to host a Little Christmas party you could also consider using it as an opportunity to raise funds for a charity that supports women such as NBCRI, The National Breast Cancer Research Institute, Women’s Aid or Rape Crisis Centre.
The Cork Simon’s Women’s Christmas Lunch takes place every year in aid of homeless women in Cork.
Hold a “Take Down the Decorations Party” – go to one person’s house to help take their decorations down (and have a drink and some nibbles while you are at it!).
Across the country, there are often events that take place to mark Nollaig na mBan, so look out for something taking place near you.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this fun tweet – I particularly love the woman on the table’s face as she really let her hair down!
Jan. 6th, it’s Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas)! An Irish tradition where the women gather and party all day and the men take over the housework, and serve them food and drinks (an extraordinary reversal back in the day…). Love this holiday. Party on ladies! #nollaignamban pic.twitter.com/6jhQjh49gB
— Dr Sue Healy (@SueHealy) January 6, 2019
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