Seasons change and time marches on, no matter what part of the world you live in. This week marked an important date in the Celtic calendar, with the official start of the Celtic Spring on February 1st. This event is called Imbolc, one of the four fire festivals, but is better known as St. Brigid’s Day.
St. Brigid is a patron saint of Ireland, and is said to have been a nun and founder of monasteries from Kildare, though in pagan ritual there was also a goddess named Brigid. It is therefore possible that tradition has combined the two as is often the case in Ireland where so many pagan festivals and traditions were adapted within the Christian faith.
St. Brigid’s Day is celebrated by the Feast of Brigid, and is marked by a few different traditions. The Feast itself encourages people to give to those less fortunate, and to show respect to one another. It is tradition to make a St. Brigid’s cross out of rush or straw. They are said to be a source of protection, and are formed by careful hands to create a cross with a square in the middle.
Another tradition is to create a doll called a Brideog, and to go from house to house seeking blessing and items for the doll. This tradition stems from the story that St. Brigid traveled across the country blessing people and animals, and would accept gifts left out for her to eat and enjoy. While this does not happen much in modern times, some families will still prepare a feast in celebration of the saint.
The first day of February marks the first day of spring, something many people get excited about as they dream of longer and warmer days while sitting in the dreary winter weather. In fact this year Ireland got a special St. Brigid’s Day treat- rainbow clouds, which are extremely rare, were seen throughout the country.
Do you celebrate St. Brigid’s Day? What are some of your favorite traditions?