Oiche Fhéile Bhríde: The Eve of St. Brighid’s Feast

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Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced i-molk or i-molg ), also called (Saint) Brighid’s Day (IrishLá Fhéile BrídeScottish GaelicLà Fhèill BrìghdeManxLaa’l Breeshey), is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 31 January–1 February, or halfway between the winter solstice and the Spring equinox. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with BeltaneLughnasadh and Samhain. It was observed in IrelandScotland and the Isle of Man. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Welsh Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau.

Imbolc is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It has been suggested that it was originally a paganfestival associated with the goddess Brighid and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brighid, who herself is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess. At Imbolc,Brighid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brighid, called a Brídeóg, would be carried from house-to-house. Brighid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brighid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brighid was also invoked to protect livestock. Holy wells were visited and it was also a time for divination.

In Christianity, 1 February is observed as the feast day of Saint Brighid, especially in Ireland. There, some of the old customs have survived and it is celebrated as a cultural event by some. Since the 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Imbolc, or something based on Imbolc, as a religious holiday.

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2 thoughts on “Oiche Fhéile Bhríde: The Eve of St. Brighid’s Feast

  1. Pingback: 15 February 2013: Goddess Brighid « Gratitude every day

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