Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nollaig na mBan

Today is Nollaig na mBan or Women's Little Christmas. On this day in Ireland, it is the tradition for the women to get together for a party or go out and celebrate and enjoy their own Christmas, while the men stay at home and handle all the household duties. It is also common for children to buy their mothers and grandmothers presents on this day.

(image from http://www.acireland.ie/nollaig-na-mban-womens-christmas/)

From the website Ireland Fun Facts: During my childhood, I remember excited, shawled women hurrying to the local public house. On Little Women’s Christmas, they would inhabit this man’s domain without shame. Sitting in “the snug,” a small private room inside the front door, they would pool the few shillings they’d saved for the day. Then they would drink stout and dine on thick corned beef sandwiches provided by the publican. For the rest of the year, the only time respectable women would meet for a glass of stout would be during shopping hours, and then only because it was “good for iron in the blood.”

In his book The Year in Ireland, Kevin Danaher wrote that while Christmas Day “was marked by beef and whiskey, men’s fare”, on Women’s Christmas ” the dainties preferred by women – cake, tea, wine – were more in evidence”.

In Land of Milk and Honey, Brid Mahon says that high tea on January 6 might have featured “thinly-cut sandwiches, scones, gingerbread, apple cakes, sponge cakes decorated with swirls of icing, plum cake, brown bread, soda bread, baker’s bread, pats of freshly made butter, bowls of cream, dishes of jam and preserves and the best quality tea”.

So make sure you spend today with friends, preferably at a lovely tea shop. Or, what the heck, at a pub. Enjoy yourself. You deserve it!

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