Saturday, January 31, 2009

1st February, La le Bride, St Bridgets Day,Imbolg


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.

9 comments:

HelenJ said...

Even here in Sweden I have heard about St Brigid. I have also heard about St Brigid's cross, but I have never seen one. Thanks for showing!
/Helen

Catherine said...

Hi Peggy - you commented on my post and I replied below it so I don't know if you got notice of it. Just to say your blog is lovely and I like the photos of the various things growing, and the post on farmer's markets. we have one in Lismore in the summer on Sundays, and I go most Thursdays lunchtime to the Dungarvan one. I will try to follow your blog too. Thanks! Catherine.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Peggy, thanks so much for sharing this story. I love to hear about the history in Ireland. My great-great grandmothers family came from Ireland but I have never been able to discover from where exactly. She was an herb doctor and use to treat and doctor the people around here.I know it was things she had learned from her family. I wish more than anything that I would have known her.
Great story and I am glad you help support the crafts.
Lona

Crafty Gardener said...

Hi Peggy, it was interesting to read about St Brigid and the legends. The cross looks very interesting. I've seen similar ones but didn't know they were associated with St Brigid.

Peggy said...

HelenJ;I am amazed St Brigid has been heard of so far away!Thanks for visitng and commenting. I have visited your blog and left a comment also and will visit again.

Catherine, thanks for visitng, I had to visit a blog form east Africa (Lyndas) to find a very interesting blog from just down the road!
Hocking Hills gardener, thanks for popping over from Blotanical! The older generations had lots of folklore and plant knowledge which has been lost in this modern world.I am glad you discovered a little bit about an ancesters country here.

Peggy said...

Crafty gardener, The crosses are very simple and may be made in other countries for different reasons but here in Ireland they are associated with St Brigid.

oldcrow61 said...

Hello, I found you on Tattyannes Spot and saw from the title of your blog that you garden organically. That perked my interest as I do as well. I was surprised to see the St. Brigid's cross. I've made many over the years to give as gifts and hang myself.

Peggy said...

Oldcrow61, thanks for visiting, I am surprised at the number of places they are made around the world, I know you are in Newfoundland !

Lynda said...

It's lovely to keep old traditons going & as you say, to support the old crafts so that they don't die out. Thanks for sharing this interesting bit of Irish history & culture with us :)