Celebrating the Festival of Brigit: The Irish Spring Starts Here
First of February might be mud season or even the depths of winter elsewhere but here in Ireland we are celebrating the beginning of spring. The Irish word for this month is Imbolc and it is thought to refer to the first flow of ewe’s milk with the birth of the first spring lambs.
Now the snowdrops begin to appear all over Ireland even though there may be some flurries, some frost and snowfall on the mountains. But spring is in the air for sure and this celebration of Ireland’s matron saint, and the Celtic Goddess who pre-dates her, reminds us of the earth’s ‘quickening’ as the daylight increases. We celebrate Brigit in various ways. Although the saint is associated with Kildare and Faughart in Co. Louth there are Brigit Holy Wells everywhere in Ireland. She is celebrated in every corner with localities having their own ways of expressing honour and devotion.
It’s also quite a domestic event. On the evening of 31st January you can open your door and say good bye to winter. Then you hang a cloth – anything from a hankie to a sheet – out to collect the first dew on the morning of St. Brigit’s Feast Day, 1st February. The dew is said to offer her blessing for healing and in particular useful for fevers, headaches, eye problems and whatever ails your cattle or fowl.
St. Brigit is one of a triumvirate of saints that are honoured in Ireland. St. Brigit’s Feast Day is the first on the calendar that will interest spiritual travellers. St. Patrick’s Day, although a spiritual feast and a Roman Catholic Holy Day of Obligation in Ireland, is also a national holiday and a day where many a Lenten intention is relaxed on the day. In June there is the less well known St. Columcille of Derry, this year’s European City of Culture, who founded a monastery on Iona in Scotland.
The St. Brigit’s Cross is one of the best known symbols of Ireland. The harp is another famous symbol so I will share with you harpist Aíne Minnogue’s harp piece entitled “Brigit’s Feast.”
In 2014 Irish Blessings Tours will be leading a Tour Celebrating Brigit, both as saint and Celtic goddess. If you are interested in a guided and escorted, week-long tour email firstname.lastname@example.org