Celebrating Little Christmas – Oiche Nollaig Na mBan by James Reddiough

 In Feature

The 6th January is called the feast of the Epiphany but it has another name in Irish social history Little Christmas or Women’s Little Christmas or in the Irish language Oiche Nolliag na Mban. This meant that the twelfth night was a special one for women who had many responsibilities both in the house and in the outdoors also.

Ar an oiche sin bhiodh scith ag na mná agus bhiodh siad ag baint taithneamh as an Nolliag taréis na hoibre chrua a bhiodh idir lámha acu le linn na Nollag. In áiteanna bhidis ag dul go dti an teach tabhairne agus bhiodh deoch nó dhó acu agus bia freisin, ceapairi de ghnáth curtha ar fáil ag fear an ti tairbhne.

The women sat in the snug they would hardly be seen in a pub during the year but on this night to end the Christmas they took over the male domain an made t their own.

Women in remote rural areas might have met in a house for the night’s fun to continue the custom of Oiche Nollag namBan and also one of the women would buy in special treats for that night and the decorations were taken down as part of the get together also. This would have been in all counties including Mayo.

Tá an tradisiún beo I gcónai ach san ré ina raibh an obair ar fad le déanamh ag na mná sa theach agus bhi go leor páistí acu fosta bhiodh sé tábhachtach go mbeadh oiche shaor ag na mná chun scith a ligeadh agus sult a bhaint as an nOllaig.

Indeed celebrating the night was part an d parcel of the year when women met to knit and crochet and sew and bake cakes and pies. Also during the potato picking season they would meet in one house to make boxty from the potatoes.

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