Nollaig na mBan

I’d not heard of this. It’s Gaelic for ‘women’s Christmas’, traditionally falling on the 6th January – the feast of the Epiphany – when, after working hard for others through the rest of the Christmas season, women had some time for themselves:

“In rural and small-town Catholic Ireland, especially, women would gather in each other’s homes or local pubs for a few stolen hours of gaiety while the men looked after the brood.

Speaking to the Times, Irish scholar Alan Titley remarked that the tradition was most common in the west of Ireland in a litany of different ways. “Most women in west Kerry would have raised five or six turkeys for sale at the Christmas market,” he said. “They kept the money – like egg money – and if there was anything left over after Christmas they spent it on themselves.”

Nice article on the tradition here.

Nollaig na mBan

Beowulf’s boat

I read a review recently of a book that suggested the tale of Beowulf originated on the island of Gotland, off the coast of Sweden, in the Baltic. The author dated the story to 550ad.

The argument sounded plausible – but who knows? What drew my eye was a photograph used as an illustration of a ‘picture stone’ set into the wall of the church at Bro on the island.

https://www.360cities.net/image/bro-church-gotland-sweden

Isn’t it beautiful? Extraordinary that it’s been dated to the 5th century.

If the dating is right it’s not far off contemporaneous with the Saga – and you can easily imagine Beowulf himself, mightiest of Geats, rocking up to Heorot in it.

Beowulf’s boat