In Ireland, Christmas is not over. Here, we make the most of the season. Office work slows well down in December. While retail and service sector staff are busy on Christmas Eve, most people have the day off. And pretty much everything closes for Christmas Day. But lift doesn’t go back to normal on the 26th. That is St. Stephen’s Day, not to be confused with Boxing Day. St. Stephen’s Day has its own distinct traditions, such as hunting the wren. The wren gave away Stephen’s location, which lead to his death. Now, the wren is left out of the wren hunting entirely. Instead, costumed men go in groups singing and raising money for charities.
But that isn’t the end of the season. Remember those famous 12 days of Christmas? December 25th is the first. After that, we still have eleven days of festivities to enjoy. And in Ireland, they end with Nollaig na Mban – Women’s Christmas – on January 6th. Yes, that is also Epiphany. And you could say that on that day, Irish people have a wee epiphany and realize that one half of the adult population has been working overtime to make the season magic. Sure, it’s 2017 and the sexes are far more fair about sharing the household tasks. But tradition is tradition! For countless generations, one person in the family has spent December in an absolute frenzy of baking, shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking and cleaning. And historically, January 6th is when she has had enough. On this day, mothers throughout Ireland take the day off.
Celebrating the Women of Ireland at Christmas
The fact is that mothering is hard work, especially when you add in the seasonal pressure to make Christmas absolutely magic and fill your social media with charming pictures of the kids making perfect little crafts. Because it is such a busy time, the best gift any mother can get is a break, a day off to put her feet up and relax with her mom friends. What mother doesn’t love a day without a moment of cooking or cleaning? And we all like our efforts to be appreciated. That’s what Nollaig na Mban is all about.
If you want to treat your mother to a real Irish Women’s Christmas, you can. It doesn’t matter where you are. Start the day by making her breakfast in bed. Of course, let her sleep in first. You don’t have to be a great cook. Some pastries and yogurt with tea or coffee will do. And don’t forget to wash the dishes afterwards!
Next, mother would probably love an outing with her besties. (Not the family, her other besties! The ones who all wipe their own noses, with tissues, not her shirt.) Irish women traditionally go out for lunch together or visit the pub. But you could also arrange a trip to the cinema so she can see something that doesn’t involve a line of spin off toys or endless car chases. (Bonus – this is a great chance to escape any films you don’t want to see. Win-win!) Or if you really want to make it an unforgettable day, what about a day spa for her? All of that magic making she’s been up to can leave her with some sore muscles and dry skin. A massage and facial wouldn’t go amiss.
Of course, don’t forget the ‘Christmas’ in Women’s Christmas. This is the time to spoil her with another present. Grown siblings can go in together to get her a beautiful Mother’s Pendant. Husbands might go for something very sparkly and pretty from the Halo or Signature925 collections to remind her of the romance you share. Gifts that speak to her Irish heritage are always perfect for Nollaig na Mban. The Celtic Tribes and Celtic Weave collections have some gorgeous choices for Nollaig na Mban gifts.