|Nollaig na mBan|
Women's Little Christmas
Nollaig na mBan
Là na Bliadhna Ùire
Christians in Ireland and the Irish diaspora, particularly women
Newfoundland and Labrador
|Type||Christian, Irish and Scottish|
|Significance||visit of the Three Kings to Jesus, former date of Christmas|
|Observances||religious services, gift giving, family gatherings, meeting friends|
|Date||6 January in Ireland, 1 January in the Scottish Highlands|
|Related to||Christmas, Epiphany, Christmastide, Epiphanytide|
Little Christmas (Irish: Nollaig na mBan, lit. 'Women's Christmas'), also known as Old Christmas, is one of the traditional names among Irish Christians and Amish Christians for 6 January, which is also known more widely as the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated twelve days after Christmas Day. It is the traditional end of the Christmas season and until 2013 was the last day of the Christmas holidays for both primary and secondary schools in Ireland.
Owing to differences in liturgical calendars, as early as the fourth century, the churches of the eastern Roman Empire were celebrating Christmas on 6 January, while those of the western Roman Empire were celebrating it on 25 December.
Observance by country
In the Scottish Highlands the term Little Christmas (Scottish Gaelic: Nollaig Bheag) is applied to New Year's Day, also known as Là Challuinn, or Là na Bliadhna Ùire, while Epiphany is known as Là Féill nan Rìgh, the feast-day of the Kings. The Transalpine Redemptorists who live on Papa Stronsay in Scotland, celebrate 'Little Christmas' on the twenty-fifth day of every month, except for December, when the twenty-fifth day is celebrated as Christmas Day.
In some parts of England, such as Lancashire, this day is also known as Little Christmas. In the Isle of Man, New Year's Day on 1 January was formerly called Laa Nolick beg in Manx, or Little Christmas Day, while 6 January was referred to as Old Christmas Day. The name Little Christmas is also found in other languages including Slovene (mali Božič), Galician (Nadalinho), and Ukrainian.
In some parts of the Spanish-speaking world, the emphasis of Christmas Day is on church attendance, and gifts are exchanged on the feast of the Epiphany, when the wise men (or Magi) brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Tradition names them Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. The custom of blessing homes on Epiphany developed because the feast commemorates the time that the three kings visited the home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day (25 December) and end on 5 January, eve of the traditional date of the Epiphany.
In the Western Christian world, the two traditional days when Christmas decorations are removed are Twelfth Night (the night before the Feast of the Epiphany) and if they are not taken down on that day, Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations.
In Ireland, Little Christmas is also called Women's Christmas (Irish: Nollaig na mBan), and sometimes Women's Little Christmas. The tradition, still strong in Cork and Kerry is so called because of the Irish men taking on household duties for the day. Some women hold parties or go out to celebrate the day with their friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts. As a result, parties of women and girls are common in bars and restaurants on this night.
In Ireland and Puerto Rico, it is the traditional day to remove the Christmas tree and decorations. The tradition is not well documented, but one article from The Irish Times (January 1998), entitled On the woman's day of Christmas, describes both some sources of information and the spirit of this occasion.
A "Little Christmas" is also a figure in Irish set dancing. It refers to a figure where half the set, four dancers, join together with hands linked behind partners lower back, and the whole figure proceeds to rotate in a clockwise motion, usually for eight bars.
- "School terms in primary and post-primary schools".
- "How December 25 Became Christmas". Biblical Archaeology Society.
- John Harland (May 2003). Lancashire Folklore. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 216–. ISBN 978-0-7661-5672-2. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- George Augustus Sala (1869). Rome and Venice: with other wanderings in Italy, in 1866-7. Tinsley brothers. pp. 397–. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- "Why do Amish celebrate "Old" Christmas?". Dutchman News. 17 December 2009.
- Edward Dwelly, Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2001).
- Cheshire notes and queries. Swain and Co., Ltd. 1882. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- Arthur William Moore (1971). The folk-lore of the Isle of Man. Forgotten Books. pp. 150–. ISBN 978-1-60506-183-2. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- American-Scandinavian Foundation (1917). Scandinavian review. American-Scandinavian Foundation. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- Norwegian Migration to America. Ardent Media. pp. 216–. GGKEY:AEZFNU47LJ2. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- "Advent to Epiphany: Celebrating The Christmas Cycle – Frequently Asked Questions".
- "Candlemas". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
Any Christmas decorations not taken down by Twelfth Night (January 5th) should be left up until Candlemas Day and then taken down.
- "Little Women's Christmas".
- "On the women's day of Christmas". The Irish Times. 8 January 1998.
- Kelfenora set figures Archived 9 January 2004 at the Wayback Machine
- Labasheeda Set 3rd Figure Reel-Little Christmas. 23 September 2007 – via YouTube.