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Dublin: 5°C Friday 21 January 2022

Today is Nollaig na mBan - what's that all about?

Besides taking down the decorations.

Image: Dominic Lipinski

IT IS 6 January, which means two things – Nollaig na mBan and the “official” end of Christmas.

But what is Women’s Christmas?

Well, in the Christian calendar the day is called the Feast of the Epiphany, the day when the three wise men are said to have arrived at the stable in Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus.

But here in Ireland, it’s a day for getting your decorations down and has long been recognised as a day for celebrating the contribution of Irish women to society. It started as a day of rest for many women after the Christmas rush and many would gather in pubs or homes while men stayed at home.

According to the Dublin Visitor Centre, the day was given to women as a “reward”.

In 2016 domestic duties are more evenly shared however Nollaig na mBan or Women’s or Little Christmas is a day when women gather together to have their annual Christmas post mortem and discuss the upcoming year ahead.

This year, Orla O’Connor the director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland is calling on women to use the day to lobby the Department of Justice on the new National Women’s Strategy.

Issues such as abortion, violence against women and the gender pay gap dominated the news in 2016. It is clear that we are a long way off achieving our vision for women’s equality. The new National Women’s Strategy 2016 – 2020 represents a real opportunity to reflect on the diversity of women’s experiences. It is an important moment for women to have their voices heard, and to an ambitious strategy which sees us achieve a feminist future by 2020.

From Cork to Omagh, county and city councils have commissioned light installations and events that will take place across four days as part of the Illuminate Herstory event, which runs until Sunday.

Founder and director of HerStory, Melanie Lynch, is asking people to get involved by hosting their own Illuminate Herstory event to celebrate the women they love:

“Nollaig na mBan is a treasured Irish tradition, especially in rural Ireland,” she said.

“In the dark month of January we chose the theme of light. We want to start the year with optimism and hope, as we strive for equality for all.”

Breast Cancer Research are asking women to get together to raise funds today.

Read: 8 easy ways to celebrate the wonderful Irish women in your life today

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