To lift spirits as we move into 2021, almost 100 towns across Ireland have agreed to leave their Christmas lights on until the end of January.
Traditionally, Christmas lights would be taken down on 6 January to mark the end of the Christmas season.
Known as Nollaig na mBan, the twelfth day after Christmas was known as a day to reward women for all their hard work over Christmas, and traditional roles in the home would be reversed.
Men were to do the housework while women relaxed, visited friends, and enjoyed the last of the Christmas treats.
As this day marks the end of the festive season, throughout the years, it has been considered unlucky in Ireland to take the Christmas decorations down before the 6 January or leave them up past this date.
However, as this year’s Nollaig na mBan falls during a level five lockdown, 100 towns across Ireland have joined a campaign to leave their Christmas lights on until the end of January in an attempt to raise spirits.
Lighting Ireland – Christmas lights in January
The campaign started in Elphin, County Roscommon by Councillor Valerie Byrne, is an attempt to help raise spirits throughout Ireland as many people struggle their way through further lockdowns.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Councillor Byrne said, “This Christmas we were saying we’re going into a new year, and the vaccines are on the way. Then after Christmas, there was a slump because the numbers have gone up so high.
“If pubs are closed, if restaurants are closed… all the towns and villages will be very dark. If we left the lights on until the end of January, at least we’d have the days getting longer and nights getting shorter.”
Light at the end of the tunnel – vaccines on the way
January tends to be one of the gloomiest months of the year under normal circumstances with Blue Monday – supposedly the most depressing day of the year – falling on 18 January, so it is no surprise that with further restrictions being put in place, people may be feeling low.
Councillor Byrne hopes the campaign to leave Christmas lights on across Ireland will be a symbol of “light at the end of the tunnel as the new vaccines are rolled out.”
Ten Roscommon towns have already been joined by Westport in County Mayo, Newbridge, County Kildare, and dozens of smaller villages around the country.
Reflecting on the meaning of Christmas and why she wants towns across Ireland to get involved with this initiative Councillor Byrne stated,
“Why do we put up lights for Christmas in the first place? It’s to give somebody a guiding light and a bit of hope – that’s what we’re hoping to do with this initiative.”