The day of the bride…Saint Brigit’s Day…Imbolc.
The darkest part of the year is over.
Imbolc is an ancient Celtic festival, the festival of lactating sheep, marking the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Traditionally, in addition to blessing seeds and agricultural implements, it was a time of weather divination, watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens, and if spring would come early. Here in North America, we will be watching for a groundhog.
It is also the feast day of Saint Brigit. Prior to Christianity, Brigit was a goddess. St. Brigit is the patroness saint of Ireland. Her story is long and varied. Foods associated with the day include oats, milk, bread, and ale.
One of her legacies is the Brigit’s cross. The cross is made from rushes and hung to protect homes from fire and evil.
Paying a bit of attention to these ancient Celtic cycles, rather than making me feel otherworldly, actually makes me feel more connected to humans (albeit ancient ones).
While I will not be firing up a cauldron to cook my oats this evening, I will light a candle and raise a glass of ale to Brigit.
If Candlemas be bright and fair
Winter will have another year
But if it be dark with clouds and rain
Winter is gone, and will not come again.