Sunday, January 8, 2012

Little Christmas

Today my family celebrated the holiday known as Little Christmas (Nollaig Bheag). The holiday actually falls on January 6th which is the same day as the Epiphany and Three Kings Day. You may also hear some people refer to this day as Old Christmas, this is because using the older Julian calendar Christmas day was celebrated on January 6th. However when the transition was made to move to the Gregorian calendar the day of celebration was moved to the 25th of December.  Little Christmas is not typically celebrated on January 8th however the 6th was a Friday this year, a workday, so my family could not spend it together and to honor our heritage we held the celebration at the first opportunity.

Although many different countries use the term Little Christmas to refer to different days of the year for various reasons we celebrate it on the 6th of January because of our Irish, Scottish and Ukrainian heritage.  For the Irish, Little Christmas is a tradition that marks the end of the Christmas season, therefore all decorations, lights and Christmas trees are not be taken down and put away until after it's celebration.

Little Christmas is also sometimes called Women's Christmas or Women's Little Christmas because traditionally the men would take on all the household duties for the day while the women would spend time with their mothers, grandmothers and other female family members and friends. Our family has become somewhat "Americanized" does not follow the tradition of Woman's Christmas. It would be nice if we did though, what a great way to express your appreciation to those who cook your meals each day, don't you think?

The usual menu for our families Little Christmas meal is:
pan fried perogies with sour cream
kielbasa and sauerkraut
mashed potatoes

In our family one gift is given on Little Christmas to each of the family members we did not celebrate with on the 25th of December (the Italian side of the family). Unfortunately I do not know of other traditional activities the family participated in on this day in the distant past.  There is very little information available on the Internet about the traditional food, beverage, games and activities pertaining to this holiday. There is also no one available to tell the oral traditions within the family as my grandparents passed on at an early age.

I hope that my children keep the tradition as I know it alive. It is important to know where your ancestors come from, learn the history of the land and respect the culture of it's people.  So when I head out to the library tomorrow I will be checking to see if they have any information on Little Christmas that I can checkout and share with my children. Who knows maybe I'll even have a book to review for you tomorrow.
Sleep Well

(Image Artists - Unknown.)

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