To-day, for balance, I bring you a post which is discreet and under-emotional 🙂
February 1st, Imbolc, is the first day of Spring. Oh yes, it is and I will brook no argument. My St. Brigid’s anenomes (Anenome coronaria) have raised their pretty heads right on schedule. It amazes me, year after year, how these little beauties herald Spring.
February 1st is also St. Brigid’s Day.
St. Brigid, born a pagan (451AD) and named for a pagan Goddess, took to religion with all the zeal of a convert. She built convents and monasteries and wielded the authority of a bishop. When it comes to Irish saints, St. Brigid ranks second only to St. Patrick. She was said to have the power to change the weather, to multiply butter and milk as required and was known for the quality of her home-brewed ale. All in all, St. Brigid was a mighty woman.
If you went to school in Co. Kildare in the 1970s, as I did, St. Brigid also had the power to grant you a day off school on her feast day. I’m strangely sentimental about it. I’ve mostly reverted to pagan myself but it feels right that this is a day to stop and breathe, look up at the slightly brighter sky and be glad.
Middle Girl thought you might like to watch as she makes a St. Brigid’s cross. Traditionally, the cross is made from blessed reeds but I imagine paper straws would work well enough.
Fold one reed in half and fold it around the centre point of another reed.
Turn a quarter turn anti-clockwise so that the reed you just added points right.
Fold the next reed around the one pointing right.
Turn anti-clockwise so that, again, the reed you just added points right.
Repeat. Add a reed, quarter-turn, add a reed…
That’s it. Keep going until you feel it looks right. Middle Girl claims that fourteen or fifteen reeds are enough.
I think that garden string would be nice for securing the ends but Middle Girl insists that loom bands are the business. That’s progress for you.
If you happen to have a thatched roof you should secure this to your rafters. No? Me neither. I’ve pinned mine to the kitchen dresser. It should protect your home from all harm, but particularly fire, for a year until you replace it with a new one next St. Brigid’s Day.
I’m not sure what I believe in any more but symbols like this one still carry some weight. This, to me, is a symbol of childhood, school days, faith in the unexplained and new beginnings.
Lá féile Bríde shona daoibh.