Nollaig na mBan: January 6th is day for the women of Ireland

The Epiphany to some, the twelfth day of Christmas to others, but going back generations, today marks Women’s Little Christmas, or Nollaig na mBan – a day when the women of the house, especially in West Cork, rested, visited friends, drank tea, ate currant cake, and even went to the pub.

We have Cork to thank for Nollaig na mBan, and Kerry, Dingle in particular, too. Women’s Little Christmas, on January 6, was celebrated mostly in the south west, with some parts of Ireland claiming to never have heard about the custom.

The actual custom was about letting women rest up on the twelfth day of Christmas, having served up a feast on December 25, men’s Christmas. If a man was to help out on Christmas Day he could face the wrath of being called an “auld woman”.

Women visited one another’s homes on January 6, having tea and sharing the last of the Christmas cake, others went to public houses, and assumed the social roles ordinarily played by men. [ . . . ]

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