January the 6th, a day with more than one Christmas tradition and at the same time the last day of all Christmas celebrations. Do you want to know more about the Christmas for women and other kinds of traditions for this day? Then check this out.
January the 6th is officially the last day of Christmas and therefore also the last day of the Christmas season. The shops remove all the Christmas decorations, the lights and trees, it’s time for the next seasonal decoration. In many houses, it’s a tradition to keep the Christmas tree until that day, only by then the tree shall get removed and for example, made firewood out of it.
But it’s not only the last day of Christmas it’s also the feast of the Epiphany, the day on which the three wise men, the three kings from the Orient Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar arrived in Bethlehem to visit baby Jesus and legend has it that they brought him gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is the most celebrated tradition of January the 6th. In some countries, people make a three king’s cake, which should represent the crown of a king. In every cake, there is a figure of a king and whoever gets the piece with 'the king' in it, is a king or a queen for one day.
In Ireland January the 6th is called Nollaig na mBan, lit. 'Women's Christmas', on this day the women are not allowed to do any housework. On 'Women’s little Christmas' the men are taking the household duties, such as cooking and cleaning for their women, as an honoring for them for what they’re working during the year, especially during Christmas season. This day is celebrated as well in Scotland and in the Amish Christian culture, but the Scottish traditional 'Little Christmas' (Scottish Gaelic: Nollaig Bheag) is celebrated on January the 1st and therefore also called Là Challuinn or Là na Bliadhna Ùire lit. ‘New Year’s Day’. The 6th of January in Scotland is equally celebrated as Là Féill nan Rìgh lit. 'The feast-day of the Kings'.
In the fourth century, the two Roman Empires didn’t celebrate Christmas on the same day. The western Roman Empire celebrated it on the 25th and the eastern Roman Empire at the 6th of January. That happened because of the differences in the two calendars, while the western Roman Empire lived with the Georgian Calendar the eastern still lived with the Julien Calendar. According to the Julien Calendar, the 6th of January is the actual Christmas day and therefore now also called 'Old Christmas'. Some Anabaptists, such as the Amish, still celebrate that day as the true Christmas day, because they believe that the big presents should be brought with the three wise men’s arriving, as well as it was for the first Christmas and not with the birth of Jesus.
Similar to their belief, so exists La Befana in Italy. She also brings presents to the children on Epiphany Eve, the night of January the 5th, but with a different background. La Befana, an old woman with a broomstick, would fill the good children’s socks with candies and presents and the bad children’s socks with a lump of coal or dark candies. According to her facilities as a housekeeper, it’s also said that she would sweep the floor before she leaves, which is believed to be the sweeping away of the problems from the new year. The family simply leaves a glass of wine and a plate with regional food on the table, an act of gratefulness for her. One of the Christian legends had it that she was approached by the three wise men when they asked her for the directions to the birthplace of Jesus, but she did not know. Instead, she offered the men a place to stay for the night, known as the best housekeeper in the village. The three wise men after invited her to join them on their journey, which she declined, because she was too busy with her housework. After they were gone, she had a change of heart and tried to search the three men and baby Jesus. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to find them, which is the reason why she is still looking for the astrologers and the Son of God until this day.
By Elena Kasper