January 6th, also known as Little Women’s Christmas or Nollaig na mBan, was once considered the one day of the year when women were given a break from endless chores and housework to meet up with female relatives and friends in an effort to celebrate their own little Christmas.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, men were left to their own devices while the women folk deserted the house to eat, drink and sing with wild abandon. While this tradition certainly isn’t as prevalent as it was in past decades, there’s no doubt that elements of the custom can still be seen throughout the country today.
To a certain extent, women across Ireland still observe this feast day, but instead of looking on it as a break from domestic responsibilities, ladies use the 6th to celebrate mother-daughter relations, female friendship and sisterhood.
In an age where domestic responsibilities are more evenly split within the home, the 6th no longer signifies a woman’s much-deserved break from the tedium of household chores, but an occasion to celebrate the festive season with the women and girls in her life. Nollaig na mBan urges us to appreciate the powerful, wonderful and strong women in our lives.
It is also a time to reflect on just how far Irish women have come, most notably in recent years when the 8th Amendment was abolished and abortion was legalised in Ireland. Irish women are proud of their voices. We are no loner afraid to fight for what we deserve or to celebrate what we achieve.
So, if you haven’t gotten a chance to open a bottle of wine and relax with a group of close girlfriends over the festive season, then make today that day and keep this lovely custom alive!