Friday, January 6, 2012

Nollaig na mBan

"A strong woman."

I heard this slip out of a man's mouth as I passed by him walking my dog in my local Toronto hood a couple of years back. The comment was uninvited and he did not use these curious words as a greeting. It seemed to be merely an observation of my aura. At the time I wondered briefly if it was a figment of my imagination.

It wasn't the first time I had been called those words and it wasn't the last. At times I curse this reality, for it is often a very lonely road. At other times, like my chance encounter with the street side truth teller, and more recently, with the grandson of a Peruvian jungle shaman, I feel honoured that the core of my very being is acknowledged. I daresay that as I age, I embrace these words more and more.

Fortunately for me, there is an ancestral custom that is specifically geared to celebrate strength. The strength of women, to be precise. In Irish it is called Nollaig na mBan and it translates to Women's Christmas. The date of this celebration is January 6th (today).

And so today I am preparing for my second annual weekend brunch to celebrate this festival. I hope to continue with this tradition that my mom first reinstated on this side of the pond a couple of decades ago.

For our family this custom involves a gathering of women and homemade food and small gifts that are brought together in order to nurture and celebrate the awesomeness we are. The date for this celebration is generally chosen some time after the hustle and bustle of holidays. I recall a few February gatherings at my mom's. This year I have the good fortune to be able to celebrate twice...once in my home and the week after at my mom's home in Newfoundland.

If you are a woman reading this, please consider taking a moment to reflect on your own strength and the strength of those around you. And others, take a moment to reflect on the primal female/uterine strength it took to get most of us out and about on this planet.


  1. Oh blub, you brought tears. Yes, our mantra when out running was : We are strong, capable women.
    We need to continue to celebrate this - and as the words of one of my favourite songs (Golden Thread) has it:

    "We celebrate the bravery of women giving birth" among other courageous acts.


  2. WWW: Blub, definitely a woody sort of word, eh? Thx. xo


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