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OK, admittedly, we’re not going to use the last choice (‘-igí [IG-ee]) all that often. But I added it to today’s discussion for two reasons. One is for a sense of completion. If we’re going to say “Christmas” (An Nollaig) and “of Christmas” (na Nollag), we might as well be prepared to use the plural “na Nollaigí.”
We use the form “Nollaig” in sentences or phrases like the following:
Tá an Nollaig i mí na Nollag. (Christmas is in December)
Tá an Nollaig ag teacht. (Christmas is coming)
Nollaig na mBan ([… nuh mahn, silent “b”] Women’s Christmas)
don Nollaig, for Christmas
We use the form “Nollag” in sentences or phrases like the following:
Tá an Nollaig i mí na Nollag. (with “mí na Nollag” meaning “December,” lit. month of Christmas)
Daidí na Nollag OR Athair na Nollag (Daddy Christmas, Father Christmas)
crann Nollag, a Christmas tree
carúl Nollag, a Christmas carol
bronntanas Nollag, a Christmas gift
stoca Nollag, a Christmas stocking
Actually there are two possible forms for the plural (an fhoirm iolra), with “Nollaigí” the more standard one. Neither is used all that often online, according to my Google searches, compared to the forms “An Nollaig” (47,200 hits, unfiltered; 299 filtered) and “na Nollag” (a whopping 447,000, unfiltered, 345 filtered).
On a much bigger scale, we see a similar pattern in English, not too surprisingly. “Christmases” gets a mere 756,000 hits compared to “Christmas” itself, which gets an ultra-whopping 1,650,000,000 hits. Those are unfiltered numbers, but I’m sure the numbers would be ginormous, even with duplicates, etc., removed.
So there you have it. Saying “Christmas” in Irish involves constant decision-making as to whether to use “Nollaig” or “Nollag,” and whether to include “an” or “na.”
But here’s one bit of good news about the word “Nollaig,” as opposed to a word like, say, “Cáisc” (An Cháisc, Easter). The letter “n” doesn’t show lenition in writing, so you don’t have to worry about constantly deciding whether to add the letter “h” to show initial mutation. With “Cáisc,” in contrast, we constantly have to decide whether it’s “c” or “ch” (ubh Chásca, but coinín Cásca; An Cháisc but Cáisc na nGiúdach).
Slán go fóill, and happy word endings! – Róislín
PS: For a little more on this topic, you might want to check out an earlier blog on the subject: Nollaig nó Nollag (How To Say ‘Christmas’ or ‘of Christmas’ in Irish) Posted on 24. Dec, 2013 by róislín in Irish Language (https://blogs.transparent.com/irish/nollaig-no-nollag-how-to-say-christmas-or-of-christmas-in-irish/)