In Ireland, women have been gathering together on 6th January ‘Nollaig na mBan’, Gaelic for ‘Women’s Christmas’ for so long no one is sure when this heart-warming tradition began. In 2022, join us in celebration of Mná na hÉireann (the women of Ireland).
Tune in to the live "Goddesses of Ireland: Nollaig na mBan" event here:
On this night, the menfolk prepared the meal and did the housework so that the women could relax and have fun after all their busyness of the festive season. These celebrations usually took place in one of the women’s homes or in local pubs. This often was the only time in the year that women could drink and revel to their heart's content free from housework and childcare. Initially, they shared worries and challenges but soon came the great laughing chats and ‘sing-songs’ until the wee hours of the morning.
Jan 6 is also celebrated as the Twelfth Day of Christmas before the Christmas decorations came down and also the Epiphany; the day the three Wise Men following the Star and prophecies found Mother Mary with her baby Jesus. Nollaig na mBan nearly died out in the 1950s but remained very much alive in pockets of Cork and the South West of Ireland, when women have dinner or party together to celebrate their own ‘Little Christmas.’ These days the domestic duties may be shared but this all-female gathering is still treasured as friends and family catch up for a last ‘hurrah’ after the holiday season. More and more women are attending or organizing Nollaig na mBan events, bringing optimism and hope for the year ahead.
Herstory has brought this local custom to a whole new generation of women with Celtic soul and an inspirational global celebration since 2017. Inspired by the fact that the world lights up green on St. Patrick’s Day, Herstory started an annual light festival illuminating iconic landmarks in honor of women.
In 2022 Herstory offers women worldwide a unique opportunity to gather in community online, to feast on the inspirational, indomitable, and inimitable stories of Irish female deities and how they empower us to this day.
This celebration is based on the recent book "Goddesses of Ireland: ancient wisdom for modern women" where contemporary Irish women share their personal accounts of how these Goddesses resonate with them, informing and influencing their lives. Uniquely Irish, this exquisitely crafted full-color book highlights how these female Irish deities and their wisdom, echoing down the ages, can inspire, encourage and guide us today.
The pre-Celtic and Celtic Goddesses are archetypes of energy that speak to women of how they may live - a guiding light in the midst of our busy world. Many were seen as having a deep association with the identity of the land and were often viewed as its living embodiment. A key attribute was that of sovereignty – personal power and autonomy. We know of their traits through their myths and legends chronicled in ancient texts. They include Boann, Gráinne, Aisling, Danu, Macha and Áine and there is a beautiful simple self-ceremony to help readers connect with their archetypal energies at the end of each section.
Created by Dr. Karen Ward, founder of Moon Mná Women’s Celtic Circles and co-director of Slí An Chroí Irish Celtic Shamanism and renowned Designer and Publisher Bernie Sexton, the Goddesses of Ireland book offers women the precious gift of time to reflect and ponder.
We invite you to join us live via Zoom on Nollaig na mBan (6th January 2022) at 8.00pm GMT (3.00pm EST) for a heartwarming celebration with storytelling, poetry, music and dance to revive this ancient tradition with our global gathering of womenfolk. You will have the opportunity to experience short Immrama (Irish Gaelic for ‘Wonder Voyages’) with Goddesses Brigid, Tlachtga, the Morrigan, the Cailleach, Ériu, Síle Na Gig and Airmid during this wonderful communal event. Dressing up in your glad rags while sipping a cocktail or cocoa is optional!