The 12th Day of Christmas–Nollaig na mBan

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The Lovely Scene Upstairs in Smock Alley

Well, Christmas is officially over for another year. Our tree is down, I clipped up the Christmas cards into next year’s Christmas tags, and found one little handful of pecans that missed the cookies.

The 6th of January is celebrated throughout Latin America, Spain and Portugal as the big Christmas celebration. The Epiphany. The Three Kings have arrived at the Christ Child’s stable and all is right with the world.

In Ireland, it’s Nollaig na mBam, or Women’s Little Christmas. Traditionally it was a day when women, who would have worked double time over Christmas and New Years to ensure their (generally) large families had food, gifts and fun, got a full day off. Men were expected to do the housework and look after the kids so the women could head down to the pub for some proper girl time.

I’ve lived in Ireland for six years and have never heard the expression before. Nollaig na mBan is more traditionally celebrated in the West and South-West of the country and often in Irish speaking communities. However, after the huge success of the Waking The Feminists movement here in Ireland, this year seemed ripe to re-imagine the day as a celebration for, by and about the talents of women. It seems right to re-claim a day that was begun long before any feminist movement hit these shores.

Back then, and last night at Smock Alley Theatre, women gathered with cakes, treats, stories to tell, songs to sing and good cheer all around. The Dublin event, You’re Only mBan, was a night of stand-up comedy, live music, story-telling and singing. It was a celebration of the huge talent in our community and a coming together to close out the Christmas celebrations.

Men were involved and represented as well. Of course! That’s what feminism is: equality for all sexes.

My podcast, Trivial Cahoots was there to record it all and collect some funny stories from the audience members not performing. Click on the link to hear the event in total and for some extra fun and chats.

It’s always wonderful to see old traditions re-purposed for a new time. And 2016 is going to be a pretty wild and wonderful time for the women of Ireland.

The 12th Day of Christmas–Nollaig na mBan