Saturday, January 31, 2009
The first of February has many names mainly because it was such an important date for farmers and people growing crops to survive, as it was the first day of Spring and it was very important to gain favours with the Gods and Goddesses and Saints to help with the new crops and therefore a good harvest.
In ancient Ireland we had many pagan festivals which with the coming of Christianity were changed to saints feast days.
St Brigid is one such saint, she is reputed to be the daughter of a slave girl and a wealthy chieftain, she was fostered by a druid (ancient Irish priests)she became wise in all things and her advice and counselling was much sought after.
On her feast day butter was always freshly churned and bread baked for supper. After supper the family made St Brigid's crosses out of rushes gathered for this purpose.The crosses were then hung over the doors in the house, the dairy and the cow byre to gain her protection in the year ahead.
This is a close up of the simple cross made from the rushes, the ends would have been woven in with more rushes but nowadays an elastic band has been used. I bought this in the street in town the other day.It is an old craft and it is nice to support it.
There is an old saying that every second day from St Brigid's day will be fine,a wet February is supposed to herald a fine summer!The days lengthening slowly is also noticed after the dark evenings of January.
All over Ireland there are holy wells dedicated to St Brigid, people brought home the water and sprinkled it around the house and out buildings, the livestock and fields to invoke the saints protection.
There are many old customs and stories about St Brigid that would take books to cover. She was a very wise and practical lady who loved a 'drop' and is reputed to have made the best mead ( drink made from Honey)in the country as she also kept bees.
A formidable lady who is still honoured today.