Little Christmas, the Day of the Three Kings, or the feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in many different cultures and marks the end of the Christmas period, but in Ireland it recognizes women and all of our hard work. Today is Little Christmas, which in Ireland is also called Women’s Christmas or in Irish: Nollaig na mBan.
In other parts of the world, Christmas is mostly celebrated as a religious holiday and the Day the three wise men come to visit Jesus is the day that is celebrated with gifts as this was the day they brought the baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In Puerto Rico, for example, last night Puerto Rican children cut grass to put in a shoe box under their beds for the wise men’s camels to eat. Lists of what they wanted were placed on top of the grass. If the child was good all year, the three kings came to the house. This morning, the kids awoke to new toys. Later in the day, families and friends celebrate with food and the relatives bring the boxes the children left under their beds with the hay now gone, filled with gifts.
In Mexico, The Three Kings Day is also celebrated and the three wise men are added to the nativity scene and on the eve, shoes are left out where children want gifts to be placed. It is a very exciting time as children await the wise men’s coming much like kids wait for Santa Claus.
This day was set aside for women so they would finally get a much needed rest after catering to everyone during the holidays and throughout the rest of the year. It is a time for women to be recognized and to have a break. The tradition is for women to get together to enjoy their own Christmas while men stay home and take care of the kids. It is still upheld in all of Ireland, but is still very strong in the south, especially Cork and Kerry, which is the area my grandmother’s family was from way back when.
So recognize a woman today, tell her Merry Woman’s Christmas or Merry Little Christmas!