Nollaig na mBan has come back into vogue. It was celebrated recently on 6 January, the day known as Little Christmas, or The Three Kings because of the Three Wise Men from the East who sought out the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. Nollaig na mBan seems to have had a stronger tradition in the south than in the rest of Ireland. It was the designated day for women who had worked non-stop during the Christmas and new Year festivities to rest and have their own celebration.
I remember there was something similar in Korea after the week-long Lunar New Year festival. However I could not find any mention of it on the internet – maybe someone out there remembers it? I have been assured there was no such custom in China before, during or after the Chinese New Year. Maybe this indicates that Korean women are more influential than their Chinese counterparts.
The lunar (East Asian) New Year is late this year (mid-February) but during the recent festivities I have being thinking about it and the colourful symbolism that goes with it, promoting cheerfulness and celebration. More on those symbols later. For the present, my symbol of New Year promise is the daffodils that are growing in our front garden since mid-December. Even the recent heavy frost has not been able to restrain them. They are a tribute to all the hardworking women (and men) who cope with daily challenges and disappointments to keep popping to bring a moment of delight and optimism to a world still in the gloom of dark early evenings and late mornings.