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Monday, January 6, 2014
Nollaig na mBan
Today is the christian feast of the epiphany, believed to be the day 3 kings (wise men) visited the infant Jesus. In rural Ireland the day is known as Nollaig na mBan (a day when women traditionally took a rest from housework).
My mother, bless her soul, was the daughter of English hating, Irish immigrants who arrived in America at the end of WWI. Though born in America, her childhood was filled Irish legends and stories of classic Irish writers ringing in her ears, many of which she passed to her sons.
James Joyce was too anti-catholic for inclusion in her childhood canon but in later years mom came around to The Dubliners, Joyce's short story collection. She said it was the only Joyce she understood.
The Dubliners, several of the stories taking place on January 6, revolve around the alternative meaning of epiphany, that ah ha moment when you see things in a new way, discover what's been lost, or what you never had. The Dubliners final story, The Dead, may be one of the greatest short stories ever written.