Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lá Fhéile Bríd - Imbolc

It is February 1st, the first day of spring in Ireland and today was indeed beautiful; mild and sunny with sweet fresh air and the birds singing in the trees. Today is Lá Fhéile Bríd, the Feastday of Saint Brigit, Ireland's most popular saint after Saint Patrick. She is also called "Mary of the Gael." If you are into Celtic Christianity have a look at www.solasbhride.ie. The first day of February also heralds a more ancient festival, one of the seasonal quarter days of the Celtic calendar, Imbolc. The pagan fire and sun festival celebrates the lengthening of the days and the birthing of lambs. It's no coincidence that St Brigit - who carries the same name as the Celtic tripartite goddess Brigid - is also associated with fire. Her famous monastery at Kildare kept a perpetual fire burning, tended only by women. (Note: Illustration by Dick Warren from Mary Low's Celtic Christianity and Nature, Early Irish and Hebridean Traditions, Blackstaff Press, Belfast.)

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