Imbolc – February 2nd
Also known as Imbolg, Oimelc, the Feast of Brigid, and Candlemas.
This page has been contributed by June from the MuddlePuddle List – thank you June!
What it means
Imbolc translates as ‘in the belly’, so this should give you some idea of what this festival is about – the early stirrings of Spring in the womb of the Earth. The seeds are starting to stir in the ground, despite the cold. One of the other names for this festival, Oimelc, means ‘in milk’ This refers to the beginning of lactation in cows and ewes, as this is the time of year that calves and lambs are born. It is a Fire festival but with the emphasis on Light, celebrating it’s return as the days grow longer with the return of the Sun.
Brigid (pronounced Breed) is a Celtic Goddess who rules over midwifery, healing, fires, inspiration and much more. For a short piece on how her attributes were transferred to the Christian St Brigid and more general information on her, click on her name.
Ways to celebrate
Imbolc is traditionally a time for purification, which has given rise to spring-cleaning! Brush those cobwebs away and start afresh.
As this is a time of rebirth and new beginnings it’s also an appropriate time for thinking about what you’d like to accomplish, for making attainment goals, choosing a new skill to learn.
Make an offering of milk to the earth as a token of fertility, just pour the milk on to the ground.
Bring the Light in to your home! Lighting candles in every window is traditional, as is leaving them to burn down. Obviously this isn’t always practical, or safe, so I tend to only do this in the room I’m spending time in.
Things to make and do
Make a Brigid’s Cross in her honour, and as a symbol of protection for the coming year. You can use grasses, reeds, straws or rushes, whichever you have available. If the stalks won’t bend easily then pre-soak them for a short while in water, it will make them more flexible. Full details are shown here:
It could be fun to make the candles that you light in your windows after dark. You should be able to buy kits or basics for candle-making at a local craft shop, and probably many places online.
In keeping with the early stirring of Spring aspect of the festival, plant a seed in a pot. The pot can be decorated by hand, with whatever symbols you find appropriate. Suggestions would be the Sun, lit candles, or Brigid’s Cross.
Things to eat
If the weather is good on Imbolc it is supposed to predict a long winter, whereas if it’s bad then winter is almost over.
If the sun shines bright on Candlemas Day,
The half of Winter’s not yet away.
If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be two Winter’s in the year.
In America Groundhog Day is on February 2nd, which is also to do with predicting when Winter will end.