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"Little Christmas" in Ireland & the 12 Days of Christmas

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Little Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Ireland commence on Christmas Day and culminate with the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, also referred to as Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christman) or Little Christmas.

Click here to hear "I Saw Three Ships" from the CD "Spirit of Christmas" available here.

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Little Christmas

January 6th or Little Christmas is a very interesting date on the calendar.

Traditionally Yule ended on January 6th. The Christian Calendar celebrates "Epiphany" on January 6th also. Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas) or "Twelfth Night" closed out the Season! It was not unusual for another turkey to be cooked on the feast of the Ephiphany. During my childhood, this was the day Christmas decorations were taken down. It was considered unlucky to take them down before that date.

Seed cakes are often associated with the twelfth day of Christmas, althought it would not have been unusual to bake seed cakes for other dates on the Christmas calendar, including New Years Day and St. Stephen's Day (December 26th).

January 6th was also the day that women were given leave to vacate the house, usually in groups, and relieved of all household duties. Hence its name, "Nollaig na mBan" or Women's Christmas, since it was a time for women to rest.

In the Christian Orthodox tradition, Christmas is often still celebrated on January 6th. This is due to the old Julian calendar, when Chrismas falls on this date. In many countries around the world, this is the day to exchange gift for the holidays.