How to Celebrate Spring the Traditional Celtic Way

The daffodils and snowdrops are arriving, the evenings are getting longer, so how do you celebrate Spring the traditional Celtic way?

The festival of Imbolg marks the first day of spring and it centers around Brigid - a central figure in both Christian and pagan times. It all starts on February 1st and the name comes from the Gaelic ‘in the belly’ which meant the lambs soon to be arriving.  

   Saint Brigid's Cross Pendant
Saint Brigid's Cross Pendant

Saint Brigid’s Cross
If you want to celebrate, the starting point is a Saint Brigid’s Cross to celebrate this remarkable female saint who was born in the 5th century and said to have gifted farmers new vision for a good harvest as they prepared to clear, sow and plant. She was thought of as a spring goddess and was said to have stood up for herself and those who needed her guidance. The cross is made with an equilateral cross from reeds but many people nowadays make it from paper or other materials and leave it at doorways where they are said to offer protection. Brigid went on to found a spiritual community in County Kildare and inspire craftspeople and nature lovers. There’s also a tradition of making a Brideog which is a Brigid straw doll with straw or rushes wrapped in white fabric to represent a little dress.

Holy Wells - Fire and Water
Fire and water are associated with Saint Brigid and her perpetual flame, originally in Kildare for centuries was re-lit in the 1990s and is in the Solas Bhríde Center there. Lighting a candle or fire to symbolize Saint Brigid is a way of celebrating her essence and spirit and the Celtic way. Her many holy wells throughout the country are also visited, spring cleaning is also a tradition and there are many festivals now dotted around the country in celebration of this saint. If you’re not near a holy well it’s also a tradition to visit a stream or river.

Red or Blue for the Morning Dew
Another way to celebrate Spring the traditional Celtic way is to follow the tradition of the Bhrat Bhríde. This was a strip of red or blue material to catch the morning dew and was known as a symbol of healing. There was also the tradition of a young girl representing Brigid to come with reeds to the front door as the family waited inside in the dark representing wintertime. Once she stepped in, the arrival of spring was celebrated.
Ireland has a great rich Celtic heritage full of traditions and rituals that are still embraced to this day.
Posted on February 10, 2021

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