In Ireland, Nollaig Bheag takes place on January 6 and signals the end of Christmas and a break from the hard labor of the season for Irish women. I didn’t know this, but, in the old Julian calendar, Christmas day used to be celebrated on the 6th of January, until they switched to the Gregorian calendar.
“Little Christmas is also called Women's Christmas (Nollaig na mBan), and sometimes Women's Little Christmas. The tradition, still very strong in Cork and Kerry, is so called because of the Irish men taking on all the household duties for the day. Most women hold parties or go out to celebrate the day with their friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts. Bars and restaurants serve mostly women and girls on this night. Children often buy presents for their mothers and grandmothers.”
Little Christmas is the one day of the year where the Irish mammies get to put their feet up and the men folk do all the chores and cooking? Hah! I'd like to see that!! Irish mammies rule, that's for sure.
For the less cynical, here is a lovely blog post of one Irishwoman’s memories of this tradition:
My female friends and I do celebrate this day, either at someone's house or at a restaurant or bar. As a modern tradition, it's great fun to have a girls' night to dress up, eat, laugh, and socialize. No boys aloud, though we sometimes break that rule. Of course, you can do this any day of the year these days, but Women's Little Christmas is still something special.
Nollaig Shona (Happy Christmas - again)!