Tuesday, January 6, 2009


The sixth of January today, a strange day. The twelfth day, little Christmas, the last day of Christmas but by now I think everyone has had enough. Most people have gone back to work after holidays and New Year resolutions have been made and broken. Decorations, Christmas trees are being taken down, stored or recycled.

This is the Christian feast of the Epiphany, the coming of the wise men to the stable. Apparently the birth of Christ was celebrated on this day in the east at one time and so it remains an important feast there. Often the figures of the three wise men are only added to the crib today. At home they have been there all along, it seems unkind to have them there only for a day.

Nollaig na mBan is an Irish name for this day apparently because unlike the Christmas feast, men took on most of the cooking and cleaning duties for this feast giving the women of the house time off.

Wikipedia article here.

I always though that T.S. Eliot's poem The Journey of the Magi captured well that post-Christmas feeling of doubt. Even on a very superficial level there is that coming back down to earth: "Should we really have spent that much on presents? Are we actually going to keep all those promises? Yes it was nice to go the Christmas Mass but every Sunday? It's lovely to have frost and even snow at Christmas time but I can't wait for the summer."

There is a general feeling of having overdone it - the celebrations, the eating, the goodwill, the religion - and the need now to get back to reality and the dark days of January.

The Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot

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