Celebrate Women’s Little Christmas on January 6

January 6 marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas. Commonly known as Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas, in Ireland the date is also known as Women’s Little Christmas.

On this day, the final of the Christmas season, women would get a much deserved rest after catering to family and friends during the holidays.

Speak Irish: Nollaig na mBan (null-ug na Mon) means Women’s Christmas

How to Celebrate Women’s Little Christmas

Traditionally it is considered bad luck to take down Christmas decorations before January 6 – so leave that task to the gentlemen and enjoy a well-earned respite with the ladies in your life!

In Ireland you’ll find Women’s Christmas Breakfasts, women filling restaurants and pubs, or even small gatherings over tea and cakes in private homes.

Here are a few ideas to celebrate Women’s Little Christmas wherever you are!

Happy Women's Christmas to You All!
Happy Women’s Christmas to You All!

Host a Women’s Christmas Tea (or Open House)

While you’re prepping everything for your Christmas celebrations make some extra and tuck them in the back of the freezer. Invite friends to visit January 6 for a bit of a ‘catch up’ over tea or bubbly, accompanied by the treats you saved back, lovely nibbles from a local shop, or fine Irish fare ordered online. If you can, have men or kids on hand to act as waitstaff.

Meet Friends at the Pub

Gather with the ladies at a local pub for a meal, drinks, and chin wag. A good Irish pub should know the tradition and be able to help you create a fun, lively experience. If your local isn’t Irish let them know what you are planning and ask how they can help, or if you can bring in some things to make your gathering festive.

Host an Extravagant Dinner

Coordinate with a favorite restaurant for a fabulous women’s only holiday meal! Coordinate a prix fixe multi-course menu with different options and invite all the ladies you know! Think big! Mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, friends, friends of friends… The more the merrier!

Take Time for Yourself

Had too much together time and really just want to enjoy a peaceful afternoon? Spoil yourself a little! Pick a few of your favorite things, then sit back and savor them in the way that make you happiest!

Whatever you do, whether big and extravagant or small and personal, don’t overlook Women’s Little Christmas, a wonderful Irish tradition that needs to catch on everywhere!

Looking for more Irish Christmas Traditions?

Read about these Irish Christmas Traditions to Celebrate at Home!

Irish Gifts for Christmas (or any other occasion!)

Irish gifts to give for Christmas

Add a little bit of Ireland to your gift giving this year!

Whether you’re looking for gifts for a loved one or you need to add ideas to your own gift list, these Irish gift ideas will add culture and craic to your holiday!

Irish Gifts to Give
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Irish Gift Ideas

Don’t forget the Christmas Crackers!

This is really more of a cultural tradition than a gift, but no Irish table is complete without Christmas crackers.

Usually placed atop the place setting or above the plate, these tube ‘pop’ when pulled apart, showering confetti, candy, trinkets, and the obligatory paper crown as they explode.

You can find Christmas crackers at World Market and Amazon has a huge selection of Christmas crackers. Buying tip: buy different crackers for adults and children. Most crackers have images of what lies inside on the box or in the description.

Want to make your own Christmas crackers to stuff with personal goodies? I recommend a Christmas cracker kit so you get the ‘snap’, but you can also just use toilet paper rolls and wrapping paper (instructions here).

Cultural Irish Gifts for Christmas

Bitesize Irish

There is no better way to understand Ireland than to learn a bit of the language. Bitesize Irish has easy to follow ‘bitesize’ lessons designed to help you speak, read, and understand the Irish language.

As you delve into the lessons you’ll understand why the Irish have such a fanciful way of speaking. Did you know there is no word for ‘no’ in the Irish language?

Sign up for Bitesize Irish with a free course! Memberships begin at $35 per month.

Emerald Heritage

Become an Irish land owner! This is a super fun gift for the person who has everything.- except a title! Yes, with the purchase of this gift your recipient becomes a ‘Squireen’, an official title that can be added to anything…

Another benefit of this gift is that is helps replant Ireland’s native woodlands and restore historical buildings. Land owners can even visit their plot!

Buy a plot starting at $39.59 from Emerald Heritage.

DNA Testing

Are you as Irish as you think you are? Find out with a DNA testing kit!

Choose Ancestry DNA if you want to create a family tree and dig into your roots. Add an Ancestry membership for the full experience.

Choose 23andMe if you want to dig into your health and traits. It’s kind of amazing the quirky things that are passed down from our ancestors!

Save up to 50% on 23andMe kits! Ancestry + Traits $79 and Health + Ancestry $99.

Give Gifts from Ireland

Burren Perfumery

This is one of my favorite places to visit when in Ireland. The natural perfumes, colognes, soaps, and creams are truly fabulous.

Great options: Man of Aran for him and Ilaun or Summer Harvest for her – available as fragrance, lotion, and castile soap. I swear by the Rosehip Oil facial serum for keeping fine lines and deep wrinkles moisturized and less noticeable.

The wonderful bar soaps are terrific hostess gifts or stocking stuffers.

Shop online at Burren Perfumery. Tip: follow Burren Perfumery on Facebook and watch for their Free Friday deals!

Aran Sweater

It’s a timeless classic- the original Aran Sweater direct from the Aran islands just off the west coast of Ireland.

The Aran Sweater Market still crafts their woolens on Inis Mor. And though their designs have gone beyond the traditional Fisherman’s Sweater, you’ll feel wrapped in the history and traditions of Ireland no matter which item you wear.

Purchase from the Aran Sweater Market online.

My Ireland Box

This monthly subscription box is perfect for someone who loves Ireland! Each month’s box is specially curated, featuring designers and artisans from across the country.

The items change monthly, but past boxes have included jewelry, candles, soaps, woolens, calendars, and other wonderful Irish finds!

Available as a ‘once off’, monthly subscription, or in 3 and 6 month subscriptions.

Order soon to get the Christmas Box or begin a subscription in January.

Irish Food

Do you fancy an Irish Breakfast or maybe a traditional afternoon tea? Maybe you just want to taste some Irish treats like Tayto, Butler’s chocolates, or Ballymaloe Country Relish. Whatever your desire, there’s an Irish Food Hamper to fit your taste!

For traditional Christmas flavors try The Season Selection with Starry Mince Pies, an Irish Whiskey Cake, and plenty of chocolates.

I like the Traditional Treats hamper for tea or an evening watching Christmas movies.

Order online (but maybe order enough for before the holidays as well as gift giving!)

Handmade Gifts from Ireland on Etsy

Handmade is special, even if it wasn’t made by your hands! Use Etsy to find handmade gifts from Ireland!

Give Great Stories of Ireland

Curl up with a great story or plan your next trip with these recommended reads!

Plan: Choose an Ireland travel guide to help you plan (or dream about) a future trip to Ireland.

Learn: Get your kids excited about Ireland with tales, stories, and facts about the Emerald Isle.

Books for Irish Dancers: Rod Vick has a few great books for Irish dancers. Check out the Kaylee O’Shay series (7 books) and Dance of the Third-String Quarterback.

Escape: grab a pot of tea and a few biscuits when you sit down with these books:

Give the Gift of Ireland Travel

Wouldn’t you like to find Ireland in your stocking?

For a truly special Ireland vacation purchase tickets for A Celtic Experience, a small group luxury tour of Ireland. This 8 night tour includes luxury accommodations (2 nights in a castle!), spectacular dining, immersive history, time to explore on your own, and a private driver guide. Cost is €2600 per person and group is limited to 10 people.

Get more information on A Celtic Experience.

Excited to plan your own Ireland vacation but need tips on how to do it? Then the Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams digital book is for you! Designed to guide you through every step of your Ireland vacation- from planning when to go through filing the VAT as you leave.

Order for just $5 through December 24, 2019.

Want to add some Irish Traditions to your Christmas?

Be sure to read Irish Christmas Traditions to Celebrate at Home as you prepare for the holidays!

Making Barmbrack for Halloween is a Celtic Treat

Making barmbrack for Halloween is a tasty Irish custom that just might give you a little insight into the coming year!

Traditional Barmbrack. Photo courtesy of Donegal Diaspora.

A Little Background on Halloween in Ireland

Did you know that October 31 is the last day of the Celtic calendar?

November 1 marked the beginning of the new year for the Celts. It was a time when the harvest was done and the Earth was preparing to rest and regenerate for spring.

On the final night of the year the festival of Samhain (sow-in) began, marking the move from the light half of the year into the darker half. It was also the time of year when the veil between the world of the living and the spirit world was at its thinnest.

Many of our modern Halloween traditions come from Celtic customs
Read More

Making Barmbrack for Halloween

The name barmbrack is from the Irish bairín breac, which means ‘speckled loaf’.

But what makes barmbrack stand out from other sweet breads or fruit loaves is the fortune telling properties of the cake.

Before the loaf was baked 5 small items were added to the batter: a pea, a twig, a piece of cloth, a small coin, and a ring. Each of these had a significant meaning. If your slice had the pea you would not marry in the next year. The stick foretold of an unhappy union. The cloth brought bad luck for the coming year. If your slice of barmbrack had the coin you would enjoy good fortune. And to receive the ring meant you would marry before the year’s end.

If you were to buy barmbrack from a store in Ireland today it would only include the ring, but if you make it I would at least add in the coin, as well.

Two Barmbrack Recipes for Halloween

There are many recipes for barmbrack, some with yeast and some without. I have included one of each.

Irish Barmbrack (no yeast from food.com)

3/4 C golden raisins
3/4 C currants
1/3 C crystallized cherries
1/3 C candied peel
1 C light brown sugar
2 C self rising flour
1 C cold strong tea
1 t Allspice (mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove)

Soak the raisins and currents in cold tea overnight.
Heat oven to 350F and line a 1 lb loaf pan with greased parchment paper.
Add all the remaining ingredient to the raisins, currents, and cold tea.
Stir well and pour into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for apprx 1 1/2 hours or until cooked through.

Keeps well in a covered tin for about a week.
Best when served warm and buttered.

Irish Halloween Barmbrack (with yeast from IrishCentral.com)

3 1/2 cups plain flour (450g)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons (1 sachet) dried yeast (7g)
4 tablespoons butter (75g)
1/3 cup castor sugar (75g)
1 cup milk (250ml)
1 beaten egg
1 cup raisins (150g)
3/4 cup currants (100g)
1/4 cup chopped dried fruit peel (50g)
Some melted butter for greasing

Warm the milk, add the butter and let it melt in the warm milk.

Mix the yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Add half the warmed milk mixture. Add the beaten egg.

Sift the cinnamon with the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the yeast and liquid mixture into it. Sprinkle a little flour over the liquid and leave it in a warm place for 20 minutes until the yeast froths up.

Add in the remainder of the liquid and mix the whole lot into a dough. Turn it out onto a floured board, sprinkle with the sugar, raisins, currants and chopped peel and knead them into the dough.

Put the dough into a butter-greased large bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

Knead it back again and then shape into your greased bread tin. Brush the top with melted butter and cover until doubled in bulk again.

Bake for 40 minutes in a pre-heated hot oven at 400°F (200°C /Gas mark 6) until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

To give it a nice glaze, stir 1 tablespoon sugar into 2 fl oz boiling water (50ml) and brush this over the top of the loaf when it comes out of the oven and is still hot. Leave to cool before cutting.

If you don’t like raisins or currents experiment with other dried fruits like cranberries, blueberries, or chopped dates. You can also replace the crystallized cherries in the first recipe with candied ginger.

More Fun References!

Learn more Halloween words in Irish!

Halloween in Ireland- 3 Spooktacular Castle Celebrations in the West

Old Irish Customs that Survive in Modern Ireland with author Felicity Hayes-McCoy (podcast)

Enough is Plenty: A Year on the Dingle Peninsula by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (book; Amazon affiliate link)