Christmas on Crone Island
January 6, 2018 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Nollaig na mBan: Known to many Christians as Epiphany, Three Kings’ Day, Twelthfth Night or Little Christmas, January 6 in Ireland is also Nollaig na mBan [pronunciation], or “Women’s Christmas.” Traditionally, on this day the women who had cooked, cleaned, decorated and produced the entire Christmas holiday enjoyed a day off while men cleaned up the remnants of the holiday. Historically, activities included gathering at the pub “without shame” - even pre-1958 when women were not permitted in pubs without a male chaperone - drinking stout or wine, and hanging out with female friends. Today, Nollaig na mBan is often reclaimed as a feminist celebration showing appreciation for women and celebrating women in leadership, literature and the arts. This year, it also launches the 2018 celebration of women’s suffrage in Ireland. If you celebrate in no other way, do, enjoy this beautiful and strange short film, Oiche Nollaig na mBan, based on Seán Ó Ríordáin's haunting poem.

Podcast with notable women discusses the holiday

Another terrific poem for the day by Moya Roddy: Nollaig na mBan
posted by Miko (17 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
It's a lovely idea, but will we be allowing men on Crone Island?
posted by elsietheeel at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2018


The guy in the Munster recording sounds exasperated, like he's been trying to correct someone's pronunciation for quite some time and they're just not getting it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:59 AM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

The film is just lovely, thank you for sharing it! I love the choral arrangement of the poem.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:04 AM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Ulster speaker just sounds...angry. Like he's not just correcting someone's pronunciation, but beginning to suspect that that person is just trolling him.
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:35 AM on January 6, 2018

The video is amazing. I've bookmarked it to show my granddaughters.
posted by night_train at 9:35 AM on January 6, 2018


I am not sure I can pronounce Twelthfth while sober.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2018

posted by Miko at 9:53 AM on January 6, 2018

I loved that short film - wonderful post all around, I've never heard of this before, thank you.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 10:08 AM on January 6, 2018

Both the poems mentioned here and the video are beautiful. I am of Irish descent but did not know about this most excellent holiday. It sounds like the perfect day, go out drinking with girlfriends and let the men clean up.
posted by mermayd at 10:45 AM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ironically, I just sat down to gaze at my phone after spending all morning undecorating and disposing of the Christmas tree. I now feel more justified in spending the rest of the day doing fuck all. It's ancient Irish tradition!
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:59 AM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Nollaig na mban is such a cheat when you're both mná :C just did the dinner and the washing up! Nollaig na mban wasn't celebrated with any easing of burdens for my grandmother when I was young, she would often prepare an entire repeat of the Christmas meal, turkey and all! So more of a Little Christmas affair for us.
posted by Iteki at 11:27 AM on January 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

My wife's having a nap. Maybe I should take down the Christmas tree.

(But I like having a Christmas tree! I grew up with a real tree but we have a fake tree due to her allergies. But the wonderful thing about this, I've learned, is that you can leave the tree up forever without worrying about it dying. It's been up since Thanksgiving night, and I'd leave it up into February if that weren't just weird.)
posted by madcaptenor at 12:43 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

My mother, sister and I usually do our Christmas celebrating on Twelfth Night. Since we're all women, I guess we were celebrating Women's Christmas without knowing it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:51 PM on January 6, 2018

Time to dig out the rickety old copy of A Woman's Heart again, I guess. (Or maybe Youtube is easier these days).
posted by rollick at 2:01 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

“One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover’s eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.

Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”
posted by Captain l'escalier at 3:13 PM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Epiphany is also my dad's birthday, and now that I do an artificial tree, I always leave it up until January 6th. I wasn't aware of this holiday, but now that I am, I will definitely add it to my reasons to enjoy January 6th.

My dad was the kind of guy who wanted to cook for his birthday anyway. He'd approve sharing the holiday.
posted by the primroses were over at 5:32 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Note: Nollaig na mBan is "Women's Christmas" but when we talk about this day in English, it's universally called Women's Little Christmas. I myself prefer Little Women's Christmas and spent the day reading and dying of Asutralian Flu. Mr DarlingBri made dinner.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:38 PM on January 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

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