Friday, February 1, 2019

Imbolc, the Day of Bríd

Bríd (artist unknow)

Imbolc... also called Lá Fhéile Bríde. A Gaelic festival that marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man; Imbolc is one of the four seasonal festivals along with Beltane, Lughnasa, and Samhain.  Bríd (anglized as Bridget) was incorporated in the early Christian faith as Saint Bríd. Bríd governed moral guidance, virginity, purity, the household, and livestock, and she was a patroness of crafts, such as smithing, and grain farming. 

Saint Bríd with the her cross icon

Her symbols are the Bríd’s Cross and the Brídeóg, which was a corn (grain) doll or effigy, that was paraded from house to house by girls, often with the strawboys joining the procession. 

Food and drink was left out for Bríd on this day and she was asked to protect the home, family, and livestock and a scared fire was lit. Holy wells were visited on this day and seers practiced divination at this time. 

Statue of Bríd, 2nd Century BC in Brittany France

We know of Bríd as a Gaelic goddess, but she was known throughout the Celtic world from Ireland in the west and across much of western Europe.  Part of our heritage and a lovely thing to celebrate on this cold day.