In much of western Christianity, The Feast of the Epiphany that occurs on twelve days after Christmas celebrates the revelation of Jesus as incarnation of God. On January 6th each year when the visit to of the Three Wise Kings are commemorated, this event marks the end of Christmas.
In Ireland, the date is known as Nollaig na m’Ban or Women’s Christmas, occurring on the twelfth and final day of Christmas after which decorations can be taken down and a day dedicated to the acknowledgement for the work of women in the home. At a number of locations throughout rural Ireland, notably the Dingle Peninsula the day is marked traditionally with women in the home taking a break from their chores and their men folk attending them before they then usually gather with friends to enjoy an evening of chat. In the rural farming society of times past where women played such a vital role on the farmstead and in the home, Nollaig na m’Ban provided an opportunity for gratitude when the men of the family stepped up and assumed the roles and tasks usually undertaken by the women allowing the ladies a well-earned rest. In the modern era, the event is more typically marked with a family lunch or dinner prepared for the woman-of-the-house while increasingly in recent years, Noillaig na m’Ban has become a big social night-out for women, gathering with groups of friends or family to celebrate with a dinner often and usually drinks at the local pub but alas, like all else on the social calendar during this Covid-time, the sounds of female chatter and laughter is dulled for now.
(In 1839, less than a decade before The Great Famine on the night of Nollaig na m’Ban hurricane winds followed an exceptionally heavy snowstorm over much of the islands of Ireland and Britain bringing great destruction and searing into folk and historical records as, Oíche na Gaoithe Móire – Night of the Big Wind.)
As so many of our societies continue to struggle with rapidly growing infection rates of this virus, on this Nollaig na m’Ban of 2021, we salute the role of so many women in every aspect of this challenge, in the work-place and at home. May the Divine Feminine guide you always!