Imbolc or Imbolg, also called Saint Brigid’s Day, is a Gaelic traditional festival. It marks the beginning of spring, celebrating light and fertility, honouring the first stirrings of life. It is held from February 1st and goes until sundown on February 2nd, which is about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The earliest mentions of Imbolc in Irish literature date back to the 10th century.
Imbolc represents purification, renewal, reflection, fertility and illumination. As the days begin to grow longer and with the return of the Sun, Imbolc is the time to visualize life flourishing with abundance, creativity and renewed strength.
To celebrate Imbolc, focus on celebrating the Goddess Brigid. For Christians, it is the feast day of Saint Brigid. To celebrate this time, you can set up an altar with the symbols of Brigid, like a corn husk or straw doll, white flowers, a bowl of milk, and candles. It is a perfect time to plants seeds or bake. Have a nice feast. Light candles or turn lights on in every room after sunset to celebrate the return of the light. Imbolc is a Fire Festival and fire of all kinds is associated with Brigid – the fire of creativity, the protective hearth fire, and her fire wheel – the Brigid Cross, which heralds her as a Sun Goddess.
Some altar items for inspiration:
- Incense. Myrrh, frankincense, and musk are good for creating a ritual space. Basil, rosemary, and cinnamon are good for uplifting energy
- White, red, or orange candles
- Sun symbols
- Snowdrops (first flower of spring) or daffodils
- A tabletop fountain
- Something woolen or a sheep figure
- A triskele or other triple goddess symbol
- Early greens like wild garlic
- A blue cloth representing flowing water
- Crystals with solar or passionate associations: citrine, garnet, amber, sunstone
- Bannock – A traditional skillet bread
- Butter – In some traditions butter was churned the same day of the festival
- Milk – You can drink it, or use it in a spiritual bath. Milk and butter are associated with Brigid’s healing and protective powers
- Pancakes – Whether plain or with berries, the shape of pancakes evokes the sun
- Cheese – Rich sheep’s cheeses harken back to Imbolc’s origins
- Colcannon – A traditional Irish dish made with potatoes and greens