Irish Language Blog

Séasúr na Nollag: A Christmas and New Year’s Matching Game (and Vocabulary Review) Posted by on Dec 16, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

In previous blogs, we’ve looked at various aspects of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays (URLanna thíos). Here we’ll review some of that vocabulary in a matching game.  The dates are given in the left-hand column and holiday names in the right.  Please note the following:

a) The dates are in chronological order.

b) Not all of the cultural references here pertain to Ireland.

c) Numbers 6 and 7 are the same holiday, which has two different names.

d)  In the “dáta” column, I’ve given the date as an ordinal number, such as “séú,” but in the answer key I’ve just used the numeral itself, partly to save space and partly as a reminder that dates can be written in the two different formats.

e) Further pronunciation notes, for the numbers, will be found below the “freagraí” (answers).

f) Some of these holidays have additional names; I’ve only indicated a representative sampling here.

g) Freagraí agus nótaí fuaimnithe thíos.

Meaitseáil Colún A le Colún B.

Colún A: Dáta   Colún B: Féile
1. An séú lá de mhí na Nollag a) Oíche Chinn Bhliana
2. An naoú lá déag de mhí na Nollag b) Oíche Nollag
3. An ceathrú lá is fiche de mhí na Nollag c) Nollaig na mBan (Nollaig Bheag)
4. An cúigiú lá is fiche de mhí na Nollag d) Lá San Nioclás
5. An séú lá is fiche de mhí na Nollag e) Lá Nollag i gcuid de na hEaglaisí Ceartchreidmheacha
6. An t-aonú lá is tríocha de mhí na Nollag-1 f) Lá an Dreoilín
7. An t-aonú lá is tríocha de mhí na Nollag-2 g) Lá San Nioclás san Eaglais Cheartchreidmheach
8. An chéad lá de mhí Eanáir h) Oíche na Coda Móire
9. An séú lá de mhí Eanáir i) Lá Caille
10. An seachtú lá de mhí Eanáir j) Lá Nollag (or “An Nollaig”)


Freagraí, Nótaí Fuaimnithe, agus Beagán Cúlra (Answers, Pronunciation Notes, and a Little Background)

1d: (6 Mí na Nollag), Lá San Nioclás [law sahn NIK-lawss].  St. Nicholas Day, the feast day of Nicholas of Myra (b. ca. 270, d. 6 December 346)

In many continental European countries, this is the day that St. Nicholas delivers gifts to children, accompanied by his scary right-hand man, known by various names, such as Père Fouettard, Belsnickel (Bellsnickel), and Zwarte Piet.

2g: (19 Mí na Nollag), Lá San Nioclás san Eaglais Cheartchreidmheach [… sun AG-lis HyART-HRzhEDJ-vukh].  The “ch” sound of “cheart-” is like the “-ch-” in “oíche,” in other words, it’s basically just breath, as in English “humid” or “human,” or Welsh “Huw.”  St. Nicholas’ Day in the Orthodox Church.  The two-week difference in celebrating St. Nicholas’ Day is due to the difference in the two types of calendars, Féilire Gréagórach and Féilire Iúil.

3b: (24 Mí na Nollag), Oíche Nollag [EE-hyuh NOL-uk].  Christmas Eve, lit. eve or night of Christmas.  Note that the word for “eve” is the same as the word for “night.”  The only way we know that this means December 24th is by tradition.  The night of Christmas Day (December 25th) is “Oíche Lá Nollag” (the night of the Day of Christmas).

4j: (25 Mí na Nollag), Lá Nollag [law NOL-uk] / An Nollaig [un NOL-ik].  Note the difference in the endings — “Nollag” means “of Christmas” while “Nollaig” is “Christmas” itself.

5f: (26 Mí na Nollag), Lá an Dreoilín [law un DRzhOH-leen].  In Ireland, December 26th is recognized as Wren Day or as St. Stephen’s Day.  In Britain, Australia, Canada and some other countries, it is also recognized as Boxing Day (from the Christmas boxes or gifts traditionally given by employers). In the United States, this holiday is not generally observed.

6a: (31 Mí na Nollag), Oíche Chinn Bhliana [EE-hyuh hyinn VLEE-in-uh].  This literally means “the eve / night of the end (ceann) of the year (bliain).

7h: (31 Mí na Nollag), Oíche na Coda Móire [EE-hyuh nuh KUD-uh MORzh-uh].  This word for New Year’s Eve literally means “the night of the big portion,” referring to the traditional festive dinner.

8j, (1 Eanáir), Lá Caille [law KWIL-yuh].  Literally, this means “the day of the calends.”

9c: (6 Eanáir), Nollaig na mBan [NUL-ik nuh mahn, note the silent “B”]; aka “Nollaig Bheag” [NUL-ik veg].  January 6th is known in Ireland as “Nollaig na mBan” (the Christmas of the Women) or as “Nollaig Bheag” (Little Christmas, in contrast to Nollaig Mhór, Christmas itself).

10e:  (7 Eanáir), Lá Nollag i gcuid de na hEaglaisí Ceartchreidmheacha [… i gwidj djeh nuh HAG-lish-ee KyART-HRzhEDJ-vuh-khuh].  Christmas Day in some, but not all, of the Orthodox Churches; again the two-week discrepancy (25 Dec. to 7 Jan.) is due to the 12-day adjustment in the change the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one.

Nóta: Here are pronunciations for the ordinal numbers used above, in numerical sequence.  Numbers not mentioned above are in the last line, just to give a sense of completion to the list.  The pronunciations for three additional (non-ordinal) numbers, “déag,” “fiche,” and “tríocha,” are given in the last line — note the two completely different “-ch-” sounds in “fiche” and “tríocha.”

1st: chéad [hyayd, with the “hy-” as in “humid” or “human”]

1st: aonú [AYN-oo] or an t-aonú [un TAYN-oo] is used for combinations such as “an t-aonú lá déag” (the 11th day) or “an t-aonú lá is tríocha” (the 31st day).  “Aonú” is based on the number “aon” (one) and these forms, taken very very literally, are like saying the “first and ten day” or the “first and thirty day.”

4th: ceathrú [KyA-hroo, with the “ky” as in “cures,” not as in “Coors”]

5th: cúigiú [KOO-ig-yoo]

6th: séú [SHAY-oo]

7th: seachtú [SHAKHT-oo]

9th: naoú [NEE-oo]

Orduimhreacha nach bhfuil sna colúin thuas:

2nd: dara (DAH-ruh)

3rd: tríú (TRzhEE-oo)

8th: ochtú [AHKHT-oo]

10th: deichiú [DJEH-hyoo]


Dhá Lá Dhéag na Nollag (The Twelve Days of Christmas) (about the Wren Boys and the Day of the Wren on December 26th)


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