Little Christmas – Feast of the Epiphany 2020
In Ireland, Little Christmas is also called Women’s Christmas (Irish: Nollaig na mBan), and sometimes Women’s Little Christmas. The tradition, still strong in Cork and Kerry, is so called because Irish men take on household duties for the day. Some women hold parties or go out to celebrate the day with their friends, sisters, mothers and aunts. As a result, parties of women and girls are common in bars and restaurants on this night.
In Ireland and Puerto Rico, it is the traditional day to remove the Christmas tree and decorations. The tradition is not well documented, but one article from The Irish Times (January 1998), entitled “On the woman’s day of Christmas”, describes both some sources of information and the spirit of this occasion.
There is a custom of blessing homes on the Feast of the Epiphany (6 January) when the family gather to ask God’s blessing on their home and family life. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our homes.
Instructions for Blessing the Home
Using the blessed chalk (which many parishes will bless and make available) mark the lintel of your front door as follows:
20 + C + M + B + 20 saying:
The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and nineteen years ago.
May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year.
Then say the following prayer:
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and for ever. Amen.
The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi — Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar — who came to visit Jesus in His first home. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.”
The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “20” at the end mark the year.
Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request for Christ to bless those homes so marked and that He stay with those who dwell therein throughout the entire year.