Imbolc was originally a day to honor the Celtic goddess Brigid (Brigit), goddess of poetry, healing, and metal work. Imbolc or Oimelc refers to ewes that are beginning to lactate and the birth of spring lambs. Celebrated on February 2, Imbolc is the halfway mark between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
According to Gaelic folklore, Cailleach, the old woman of winter, intends to gather firewood every Imbolc to have ready for a longer winter. She would brighten the sky while she gathered her wood. Naturally, people looked forward to a dreary, overcast day on Imbolc as it meant Cailleach was still fast asleep and winter would be over soon.
As Christianity took hold, this day became the Feast of St. Brigid and Candlemas. It is also celebrated in various forms by Neopagans, Celtic Reconstructionist, and Wiccans. It is celebrated on February 2 in the northern hemisphere and August 1 in the southern hemisphere. Wiccans celebrate Imbolc as one of four fire festivals.
|Thig an nathair as an toll
La donn Bride,
Ged robh tri traighean dh’ an t-sneachd
Air leachd an lair.
|“The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.”
Scottish Gaelic proverb
Traditions and customs:
- Ewes begin lactating and giving birth to spring lambs.
- Predicting the weather by watching for hedgehogs, snakes, and other burrowing animals come out of their dens.
- Candles and fires are lit representing the return of the sun and longer days.
- Brigid’s crosses and corn dollies, representing Brigid, are made.
- It is also a time of purification. People clean out their houses.
- The goddess is said to walk the earth on Imbolc Eve, so people left an article of clothing outside their front door for her to bless as she passed by. It was said to have healing powers once blessed.
Herbs and flowers: angelica, basil, bay, chamomile, cinnamon, red clover, crocus, dandelion, dill, frankincense, heather, myrrh, nettle, orris root, primrose, rosemary, rowan, saffron, and snowdrop
Incense: rosemary , cinnamon, wisteria, frankincense, myrrh, basil, jasmine, camphor, and lotus
Colors: white, orange, red, yellow, pink, and brown
Gemstones: amethyst, garnet, onyx, and turquoise
Decorations: candles, Brigid’s cross, and corn dollies
Foods: dairy products, onions, chives, spiced wine, and herbal tea
Use the navigation area on the left to find crafts and recipes for Imbolc.
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