“Nollaig na mBan” or “Little Women’s Christmas” is an old custom still celebrated by women in Ireland, hearkening back to the days of large families, whose care fell exclusively to Mom.
On the first Sunday in January (coinciding with Epiphany) these tired ladies got a one day break. The men would assume the household duties, freeing up their ladies to go out and relax in each other’s company.
Often, the ladies of the village gathered at the men’s domain, the local pub, for stout and sandwiches, pooling their small savings for this extravagant occasion. After chatting about the cares of the old year, they would make a pact to leave them outside the door, and spent their remaining hours carefree until the sun set and they returned home.
Even though this tradition involved stout rather than tea, it is awfully reminiscent of a tea party. Women gathering over refreshments to share sorrows and good hearty laughs, separated from the dreariness of the every day for a few precious moments. A tradition now ingrained in our culture in the midst of the everyday at Tim Horton’s and Starbucks across the country. We call it “going for coffee”! Whatever beverage you choose to consume today – be it coffee, tea or stout (or a bit of both), share it with a friend and raise a toast to the “little women” in your life!