Nollaig na mBan: Little Women’s Christmas

 

Nollaig na mBan

Happy New Year and New Decade!  I have had a relatively quiet Christmas and New Year filled with lots of good food, good friends and excellent books, period dramas and films! Though traditonally in Ireland Christmas isn’t over until Nollaig ma mBan or ‘Little Women’s Christmas’ (quite apt seeing as yet another adaptation of Little Women was released on Boxing Day) were traditionally the women of the household had the day off whilst the husbands attempted (emphasis on attempted) to do the housework for one day whilst their wives went out on a jaunt with friends.

January 6th is also traditionally the Feast of the Epiphany which is observed across the Christian world including Ireland although January 6th is more often associated with Nolliag na mBan. This is also a time when many people also traditionally take down their Christmas decorations and put them away for next Christmas and New Year.

Image result for edwardian women christmas tree

Traditionally, Nollaig na mBan was a time for women to down dusters, mangles and irons to take up a glass of sherry or a pint of bitter in the ‘male domain’ of the traditional Irish pub. It was one of the only times of the year that they could truely be themselves and enjoy the company of their friends and female relatives without the beck and call of children, husband and home.

How many women observed this traditional (or even where allowed to by husbands!) is unknown but with stories passed on from one generation to another one gets the sense that Nollaig na mBan if it was celebrated was relished by all women who could celebrate it. So time to get your glad rags on and celebrate 1920s style in 2020 for Nollaig na mBan 2020!

A women's group celebrating together

However, I don’t think you need just one day to celebrate the achievements of extraordinary and ordinary Irish women from past, present and future. Everyday should be a celebration of the wonderful women in your lives or the women have influenced you albeit your mother, grandmother, best friend or female co-worker all of these women have had an impact on your life whether you recognize it or not.

I certainly am thankful for the wonderful contribution to my life that all my female family members have made; as if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be the historian I am now nor would I be the person I am professionally if it wasn’t for their encouragement! Stay tuned for more blog posts throughout 2020 on Irish (and other) women, Irish dress (and other! sense a theme here!?), history, blogging, culture, travel and working in museums. Happy New Year!

Photographs: Dublin Civic Centre, My Irish Jewellery, The Irish Times.

Thursday Thoughts – Saving the Past: The Thomas Cook Archive and What Should Be Saved

 

With sadness the world learned about the demise of the world’s oldest travel company; Thomas Cook after a last minute bid to secure the company’s future failed on Sunday. Stories of people trapped abroad and airline staff learning they had lost their jobs whilst in the air have littered the news over the past few days. As an historian the first thing that came to my mind was what is going to happen to the Thomas Cook Archive?

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Bauhaus 100: Otti Berger, Lost Woman of the Bauhaus

Otti Berger, photographed by Lucia Moholy, 1927, design-is-fine.org

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus; the seminal art school that would change how we perceive and interpret art forever. The Bauhaus is seen as one of the most important influences on how art, design, architecture and arts education was perceived, developed and created in the twentieth century and twenty-first century. The Bauhaus embraced both crafts and fine art to make a complete piece of art. However, as pioneering as the Bauhaus was they were not as pioneering in their attitudes towards women students with many being forced into the weaving workshop. Although, one such female student became enthralled with weaving and went onto become one of the twentieth centuries most famous textile artists; Otti Berger.

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Through the Lens of a Woman: Eva Chichester and Amateur Photography c.1890-1920

 

Eva Chichester was a Sunday School teacher born and raised in Newcastle, County Down c.1872 and passed away c.1955. Her life spanned the end of the 19th century and saw the advances for women from the early 20th century to her death in 1955 aged 83. Eva was born into a well-to-do middle-class family and appears from photographs to be her parents only child. Although it is worthwhile noting that little is known about Eva’s life outside of her photographs, albums and travel journals that are now deposited in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). A systematic problem that is all to common with women’s history that scant details of their lives exist and we are left to pick up the pieces from what records do survive from their lives.

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It’s Vintage Darling! : The Why and How of Building a Vintage Wardrobe.

I have been obsessed with everything old from a young age. Some of my earliest memories are watching such classics as Gilda and How To Marry A Millionaire with my grandmother who grew up in the generation that those films were made in. My grandmother taught me how to pin-curl my hair, give myself a manicure with red nails, how to wear seamed stockings and most importantly for every vintage aficionado how to choose your colour of red lipstick and how to apply it properly.

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