What Is Little Christmas?

"Little Christmas" is the Feast of Epiphany that falls on Jan. 6. It celebrates the gifts of the wise men to Jesus Christ. Some cultures save gift exchanges for Little Christmas, keeping Christmas Day as a purely religious holiday.

Although many countries celebrate Little Christmas on Jan. 6 as the celebration of the three wise men's visit to Jesus Christ, history suggests that Little Christmas is, in fact, one of the two days originally determined to be Jesus' birth. The other day is Dec. 25. Eventually, Dec. 25 became the official celebratory date for Christmas, while Jan. 6 became known as Little Christmas, or the Feast of Epiphany. The period of time between the birth of Jesus Christ and the visit of The Magi became known as "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

In Ireland, Jan. 6 is not known just as Little Christmas, but also as "Women's Christmas." Traditionally, Irish women do all the housework. However, on Jan. 6, the women receive a rest from their labors and men take over their chores. While the men do housework, the women go to pubs and public houses, traditionally a man's domain, to relax and eat. Children often buy presents for their mothers and grandmothers on this day as well.