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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Just a little bit more Christmas

I should have warned you, but I trust that you are still enjoying the Christmas decorations in your home. Taking them down before January 6, the feast of Epiphany (remember the Magi?) has long been considered "bad luck" in Ireland. (And you know that the Irish take their luck seriously!)

Bad luck or not, it is traditional in Ireland to celebrate the full twelve days of Christmas along with the liturgical calendar of the Church. The culmination of this celebration on Epiphany, January 6, is also known in Ireland as Nollaig Bheag (Little Christmas). It is the day of the final Christmas feast and also the day to remove all Christmas decorations and begin the new season of Ordinary Time.

The day also has another significance to some in Ireland, particularly in County Cork where the Cowhey family originated. It is Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas). The tradition holds that the men take on the household duties for the day while women receive the day off, often taking time with other female relatives and friends to celebrate. January 6 also acts as a Mother's Day of sorts, with children honoring their mothers and grandmothers with gifts. You might enjoy reading Sheila Flitton's memories of Women's Christmases past and present in her native Cork in her article Little Womens' Christmas. She observes that today "wine and lunch has replaced the bottle of stout and corned beef sandwiches" from the "local public house" while each man of the house stays "home trying his hand at cooking and spending quality time with the children (or so they say)". Sounds like a tradition that should certainly be carried on.

Here's wishing you a very happy twelfth day of Christmas! I hope that you had a beautiful celebration of the Savior's birth and ushered in the New Year with joy and hope for the future. Now you can take down your Christmas decorations and go on with ordinary, everyday life. But don't forget to be especially kind to your mother on Little Christmas!


Lori Thornton said...

Well, it's my plan to take my decorations down tomorrow. My cat wouldn't allow me to take down his tree before then. He loves the lights, and I knew that I could get by with them being around until Epiphany. He's got one more night to enjoy the tree lights!

Barbara said...

His Lisa,
We celebrated the Epiphany today in France by eating a special dessert called Galette des rois ( or King's "Galette" ( a fluff pastry cake).Inside is a decorated figurine that someone finds inside their piece of cake.
The one who finds it is king or queen for the day !
It's a tradition.

I don't consider myself to be supersttious, but my decorations are not yet down. My Irish ancestors would be happy!

Thomas MacEntee said...

We just returned to Ordinary Time today as well. The highlight was throwing that 9 foot Christmas tree off our 3-story balcony!

Bill West said...

We held to the "keep the tree up
until Little Christmas" tradition
when I was a kid, too.

I mentioned "Little Christmas" to
one of my younger co-workers at the bookstore and got a blank stare. It
seems to be a tradition that's fading
away like so many others!


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