St Brigid's Day: Nine things you may not know
Published 01/02/2015 | 11:39
We have been endured a long, dark and cold winter but longer, brighter evenings are finally on the way as today - February 1 - marks the first day of spring, and is also known as Lá Fhéile Bhríde, Saint Brigid's Feast Day.
Here are a few facts you may not know about St. Brigid’s Day and the saint herself:
1. St. Brigid’s Day, on February 1st, officially marks the start the pagan festival of spring.
2. It is also known as ‘Imbolc’, or the Feast of Brigid, It celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring.
3. ‘Imbolc’ literally means "in the belly" in the old Irish Neolithic language.
4. It is one of the four major "fire" festivals, referred to in Irish mythology. The other three festivals are Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain.
5. Brigid is one of Ireland’s patron saints and was known also as a fertility goddess in Celtic mythology.
6. She is often referred to as ‘Brigit of Kildare’, and was said to be the founder of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare. She is also associated with perpetual, sacred flames, and there is also a shrine dedicated to her in Kildare.
7. According to tradition, Saint Brigid was born at Fochart (or Fothairt), near Dundalk in Co Louth
8. One of the most common traditions of the day is to make a Saint Brigid's Cross.
These crosses are relatively simple to make, and traditionally, Brigid’s crosses are made on Brigid’s Eve, January 31st. They are usually made from fresh rushes, but you can also use straws if you don’t have them. They are made in a cross shape with a square shape in the middle and then four arms coming along each side.
9. Some believe that the crosses have the power to protect the owner’s home from harm.