Ireland: What is Nollaig na mBan?

The Cultural Tradition: Woman’s Christmas

January 6th is an important date in many cultures. For Christians, it is the day called Epiphany when the kings arrived to bring gifts to Jesus Christ.
An older Irish tradition is to celebrate this date that marks Ephiphany with what they call Women’s Christmas (Nollaig na mBan) or sometimes called Little Christmas.

Listen to the full episode here!

On this date, the women of the house would take the day off to relax and celebrate with their friends. They would not cook, clean, or take care of any domestic responsibilities on this day. It was considered their day of rest after all the hard work over the Christmas holidays.

Some people still celebrate Women’s Christmas, however mostly in the more rural communities with an older generation. However, it is not as widespread as it once was. 

To learn more about this tradition and some of the customs from that day read the RTE article released January 3rd, 2020, about this tradition.

What I did: Wrote a song about the tradition

I love this tradition and certainly felt that the story itself should be captured in a lyrical piece of music! Therefore I wrote a song called Nollaig na mBan, and you can download that song for free here.

What you can do in the class: Discuss, Engage, Learn

  • Grab a free Irish Activities bundle to celebrate Irish culture at any time of the year. The bundle includes activities for grade k-5, and they do not all have to be used together – pick and choose what works for your class.
  • Save time and get a completely done for you reading lesson plan. We have two standards-based plans available to choose from.

Learn about the mysterious legend of Ireland’s lost Island!

One of Ireland’s famous poets: William Butler Yeats

  • Have a conversation about how various cultures celebrate the same date in different ways. Go back to the past month’s podcast episodes here, or check out the blog pages to learn how many cultures celebrate the date of January 6th in very different ways. This discussion about diversity is a valuable lesson where students can learn to explore and understand how we can all celebrate in different ways.

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