Friday, February 04, 2011
The season of rebirth
Well there is much to blog about... the upcoming Irish elections... Brad's first teaching experience... but for now I will focus on this week's national holiday, Imbolc.
Imbolc is a Celtic celebration of the first day of spring as it marks the halfway point between the Spring equinox and the winter solstice (sometime between Feb 1st and Feb 12th). Originally a pagan festival, there is evidence that Imbolc was marked during the Neolithic period, as the Mound of Hostages at the Hill of Tara has a passage tomb which only illuminates on the Imbolc (much like New Grange does at the Winter Solstice). It is really amazing if you think about it... each of the passage graves took well over 2 lifetimes to build and to have the final precision of creating a chamber that would only illuminate for a few days (before and after) a specific solar event, is pretty amazing... even more amazing is that this was done over 5000 years ago...
Around 2000 years ago, Imbolc celebrated the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Brigid was the goddess of fire (hearth, smithcraft, poetry and healing). And she was thus celebrated until the Christians arrived. In an effort to dispel the pagan beliefs, many of the Celtic gods and goddess were reduced to the status of "fairies and trolls", and Brigid too suffered this fate.
However, in 450 AD a Druid family gave birth to a daughter named Brigid. As a child Brigid saw Saint Patrick preach and went into ecstasy, becoming a steadfast Christian. Throughout her life she performed a number of miracles and became the patron Saint of Kildare. Officially Saint Brigid is completely unconnected to Goddess Brigid... but they are both celebrated around February 1st, and now St. Brigid's day and Imbolc would be considered one and the same. Unfortunately, we wont be able to go to the Imbolc celebration at the food co-op.
However, we will be going to a Chinese New Years celebration... which is likely Imbolc-related, since it too, is a spring festival. We will also be sure to celebrate the other pagan spring celebration, St. Valentine's day. Besides, how better to say "I love you" than with Imbolc, which, in old Irish, means "in the belly"... certainly a very fertile celebration!
The photo is of a fishing set that my friend Steffi and I made as Christmas gifts. In all, I think we made 8 sets, but it was so much fun getting in the evenings to sew that we've since started a number of new projects!