February 1st or February 2nd ??
It’s hard to pin down exactly when we are supposed to celebrate this mid-winter festival which revolves around this fascinating woman. Who was she really & why is she worthy of being remembered for over a thousand years ? Legends swirl around this Irish figure like the mists of time. She is at once an ancient pagan goddess & an early medieval Catholic saint.
I’m not sure when I first became aware of Brighit (she is also known as Bride, Brid, Brigantia, Bridget, Brighid – the list of her various names goes on & on). I always liked the name & decided ages ago that I would name my daughter after her. As fate would have it, my first child was a son, so that idea was a no go. Luckily, my second baby was a girl & she is the proud bearer of this regal name.
As a homeschooler, I can pick & choose what I want to emphasis in my children’s lives. When my son was in grade 2 & as we follow a Waldorf path, we studied saints. Many of the ‘usual’ saints that are included during the year’s main lessons are men. I believe that boys should learn about strong women & as my younger daughter sits in on many of our lessons, it made sense to share the stories of several female saints that year. Of course, Brigid topped my list.
Since I first introduced Brigid to my children, she has become a favourite around here. They wait for the day when I read “her” book (Brigid’s Cloak) & pay close attention. My daughter marvels at her magical deep-blue cloak & wishes she, too, could tend sheep while my son is fascinated by the Druid who visits Brigid’s home when she was first born. I find this book particularly wonderful because it skillfully combines the pagan & Christian roots of her story.
Celebrating Imbolc/St. Bridget’s Day
Around our house, we celebrate her day(s) with a mix of delicious food (stacks of pancakes & milk based treats like ice cream, butter & cream – not all together!!), lots of candles (our dinner table was ablaze with them) & talk of what we hope to grow in our gardens this year.
So much has been written about this phenomenal woman. I must admit that I often fall into the homeschooler’s trap of collecting too many sources about a particular subject & find that I have to take the time to synopsize them before I can actually make any use of them !
To that end, I thought I’d gather a few festival highlights here –
- February 1st & 2nd (from sunset to sunset)
Meaning of Brigid
- from the Gaelic brigh “bright flame, power, strength, vigour, virtue, exalted one”
- patroness of crafts (including blacksmithing, weaving, dyeing, brewing), healers & midwives; poets, language & alphabets; farm work & cattle
Meaning of Imbolc – (Feb. 1)
- derived from the Gaelic oimelc “ewe’s milk”
- a celebration of Brigid, new life, baby lambs, the re-awakening of the earth
- marks the halfway point between Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) & the Vernal Equinox (March 21)
Meaning of Candlemas – (Feb. 2)
- the day when candles for the coming year would be blessed in church, a Festival of Light
- by this day, all Christmas decorations had to be removed from the home
St. Brigid (or Mary of the Gaels) – (Feb.1)
- one of 3 patron saints of Ireland
- born in 452, an early Christian nun, abbess & founder of several monasteries of nuns & monks
- founder of an renowned art school (metalwork & illumination)
- fire, water, seeds, candles, early spring flowers (lilies, snowdrops), ploughs
- sheep, cows, wolves, snakes
Traditional Festival Foods
- pancakes, crepes (they look like the sun), milk, butter, cream
- red (for fire), blue (for her cloak), green (for new growth)
A Few Ways to Celebrate
- place silk ribbons or pieces of fabric on a window sill on January 31st (known as “Brigid’s Mantle”) to be blessed overnight by her spirit & give them to loved ones to protect them during the coming year
- leave offerings of bread for birds or other small creatures who might be finding it difficult to find food at this time of year
- make candles! (yellow,white & orange are the best colours to celebrate the return of the sun’s light)
- bake bread & knead your prayers into the dough, share it with your loved ones or those who could use a pick-me-up
- weave a Brigid’s cross
There are many sayings associated with these festivals.
Here’s an ancient weather prediction:
If Candlemas day be fair & bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day be shower & rain,
Winter is gone & will not come again.
Our Candlemas Day was absolutely beautiful here – clear, blue & cold.
I guess our fireplaces will be burning brightly for a few more weeks! Oh well, all the better to knit (& read) by…
P.S. Check out my pins on my Brighit Board
P.P.S Looking for an easy Celtic project ? Try this Celtic Wish Pouch you’ll find it in my FREE Handwork Resource Library.
The post “Imbolc – Brighit – Candlemas – St. Brigid’s Day ” first appeared on Handwork Homeschool.