Nollaig na mBan
Today 6th of January is Nollaig na mBan ‘women’s Christmas’ as it’s known in Ireland, also known as Epiphany, the last day of Christmas when traditionally it was said that the women were to have a day off chores and the men were supposed to do the housework and child care. Traditionally, activities like placing a candle for each member of the family in a ball of dough were used, to predict who would die first- a common if maudlin tradition. It seems unlikely that there was a time when the women really had a full day off in the household, this part of women’s Christmas seems to be more of an ideal than the way life really was all across the island. Certainly, as many Irish families have lost the Irish language these days, its old name Nollaig na mBan was lesser known these last few decades but it seems to be having a strong resurgence now, and restaurants and cafes report more all women group bookings on this day, a sign perhaps that this old tradition is growing and evolving for a new era. These days the role of women has changed so much from previous generations, and not always in women’s favour- so its good to see a time of the year when we can all stop and say today is for us to connect with our sisters.
Even if you can’t go out and celebrate or take it easy today, see if you can take a few breaths and a moment outside, and remember that the darkest days of the year are over and new life is springing everywhere, under the soil. Mother nature may look like she’s resting, but creation goes on under the surface at first, and is where the hardest work is done. Connection to ourselves and our inner life is always possible, and is essential if we are ever to support others in any form. Also reach out to a friend, just to connect. Be like the trees and the bulbs growing under the soil, let your roots grow deep today and tomorrow you will blossom and see your branches reach high.
Nollaig na mBan Shona Daoibh! Merry women's Christmas to you all!