little christmas 2023

Unwrapping Tradition: Celebrating Lìtil Christmas 2023 – A Joyful Epiphany Beyond the Holidays.

“Lìtil Christmas” (Irish: Nollaig na mBan, literally ‘Women’s Christmas’), also known as Old Christmas, Green Christmas, or Twelfth Night, is a traditional celebration among Irish Christians and Amish communities on January 6. This day is also referred to more broadly as Epiphany, celebrated after the conclusion of the twelve days of Christmas. It marks the traditional end of the Christmas season and used to be the final day of holidays for primary and secondary schools in Ireland until 2013.

Originating from differences in religious calendars, during the early 4th century, Eastern Roman churches celebrated Christmas on January 6, while Western Roman churches observed it on December 25. In October 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar as a correction to the Julian calendar, which had too many leap years, causing misalignment with the solar year. This adjustment was crucial for determining the date of Easter, indicating the vernal equinox on March 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. To rectify accumulated errors, the Pope ordered a ten-day advance in the calendar. Most Roman Catholic countries swiftly adopted the new calendar, while Protestant countries, including the British Empire, transitioned in 1752, by which time the calendar discrepancy had grown to eleven days.

In some regions, Epiphany is occasionally referred to as “Old Christmas” or “Old Christmas Day,” reflecting its original date on January 6. The celebration varies across cultures and communities, embodying diverse traditions and customs.

In Scottish Highlands, Little Christmas is called “Nollaig Bheag” in Scottish Gaelic and is associated with Hogmanay, the New Year’s celebration. In some parts of England, like Lancashire, January 6 was also known as “Little Christmas.” On the Isle of Man, January 1 was referred to as “Laa Nollick Beg” or Little Christmas Day, while January 6 was called “Old Christmas Day.”

In Scandinavian countries, where the main Christmas celebration occurs on Christmas Eve (December 24), January 23 is known as “Little Christmas Eve” in Denmark, marked by festive gatherings. Similarly, in some Spanish-speaking regions, families celebrate a grand dinner on Christmas Eve and exchange gifts on Epiphany, honoring the three wise men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to baby Jesus.

In Eastern Orthodox countries, including Russia, “Old Christmas” and “Old New Year” are celebrated on January 6 and 14, respectively, according to the Julian calendar.

In North America, certain Baptist groups, such as the Amish and Mennonites, observe January 6 as a religious festival.

The unique and diverse traditions associated with Little Christmas showcase the rich tapestry of cultural celebrations that extend beyond December 25, reflecting the varying historical and religious contexts in different parts of the world.

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