Today is Women’s Christmas or Little Christmas which has many different names including ‘Nollaig na mBan’ in Irish. It has been a long-standing tradition in the West of Ireland, particularly in counties Cork and Kerry, when women celebrate the end of the Christmas season. The festive decorations are down, the long season of preparation and cooking is over and the women folk gather together to have a celebratory meal. Nollaig na mBan is also celebrated in Newfoundland which has a strong affinity with Ireland and in some states of the United States of America where the tradition was kept alive by Irish immigrants.
The fascinating thing about Nollaig na mBan is that, rather than dying out like so many other traditions, its popularity has begun to grow and it is now being celebrated across the country. Women in Dublin organize lunches for their women friends, the women of Offaly, Limerick, Laois , Sligo and Westmeath are meeting in their own homes for meals and gatherings. Women only ‘get-togethers’ are being organized all over the place and long may it continue!
Happy Nollaig na mBan (pronounced null-ag na man) to all readers!