Other Names & Associated Festivals Imbolc, Imbolg, Oimealg, The Feast of St. Brigid, Brigid's Day, Bride's Feast, Ground Hog Day, Imbolgc Brigantia, Imbolic, Disting, Lubercus, Candlemas, Candlelaria, the Snowdrop Festival, The Festival of Lights, the Feast of the Virgin, February Eve
While winter is still going strong, there are signs that spring is on its way. The livestock begin to give birth and there is a promise for the future. The world Oimealg means "ewe's milk", a hint to the significance of this day.
It is also the feast of Brigid, the Pan-Celtic fire Goddess of healing and inspiration and one of the Patron (matron?) Saints of Ireland. A Brideo'gas, a corn dolly image of the Goddess, may be passed between the people and gifts and offerings are bestowed upon it. Since Brigid is the Goddess of Inspiration, the gift may be a poem or song, rather than a material item. Brigid's crosses are made from wheat stalks and exchanged and hung in the home to protect from fire damage.
One very fun tradition popular in Neo-Celtic groups is the Bride'og. The Brideo'gas is carried from home to home at dawn and much noise is made on various instruments, including pots and pans and tin cans, in order to awaken the sleeping spirits of springtime. The group is then welcomed inside and offered refreshments before they move on to torment the next house.
Among Neo-Celtic and some Heathen traditionalists, the plow is also associated with this holiday. In some areas, a plough was decorated and taken from house to house and children sang and asked for treats and gifts. If the homeowner did not comply, their front yard was ploughed up.
Imbolc is another Celtic fire festival and hearth fires may be re-lit, especially using Yule greenery, as keeping this too long invites the faerie folk to stay in the house beyond their welcome. Candles are placed in windows to welcome the spring and spring cleaning and household purification rituals are common.
Symbols of Imbolc
You may wish to use some of the following items to decorate your altar or your home or to plan a ritual for this holiday.
- Incense: basil, bay, wisteria, cinnamon, violet, vanilla
- Colors: white, pink, red, yellow, green, brown
- Stones: bloodstone, garnet, ruby, onyx, turquoise, amethyst
- Herbs: angelica, basil, bay-laurel, blackberry, crocus, celandine, coltsfoot, holly, iris, tansy, violets, thyme
- Symbols: Brideo'gas, besoms, white flowers, candle wheels, Brigid's cross, priapic wands, ploughs, corn dolly, Brigid's Bed
- Food: Dairy products, spicy food, lamb and food that was stored through the winter; smoked meats, dried fruit & nuts
- Gods and Goddesses: Brigid, the Muses, Persephone, Demeter, Hestia, Vesta
Have something to add, or a question?