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Imbolc

Imbolc falls on or around 2nd February. It is known by many names including Imbolg, Oimelc (meaning "ewe's milk"), Brigit's Day and, by the catholic church, Candlemas.

Brigit (also spelt Bridget, Brigid, Brighid and Bride) was a Celtic Goddess who presided over the hearth and the forge. She is closely associated with livestock and domesticated animals - in particular, with sheep who begin their lambing at this time of year.

To the Celts, Oimelc was a "feast of milk" and the fire festival is a celebration of light and the reawakening of the Earth after the sleep of the Winter. It is a time when animals begin to give birth to their young and the first shoots appear from beneath the soil.

New green leaves

Brighid's Cross

Traditionally at the wheat harvest around the time of Lammas, the last sheaf of wheat is used to create a corn dolly by plaiting the wheat stalks to create a straw figure. People believed that the corn spirit lived inside the wheat and as the wheat was harvested the spirit fled to the wheat which remained. By creating the corn dolly, the spirit is kept alive for the next year and the new crop. In Spring the corn dolly is ploughed back into the soil.

Brighid's Cross is a type of corn dolly and is a symbol of protection and prosperity for the coming year. It is traditionally made at Imbolc and hung in the home.

Gather plenty of wheat stalks (without the heads) and soak them in water until they become soft enough to bend without splitting.

Hold one stalk vertically and fold another in half around the middle of the first.

Fold the next stalk over the last one (It will be parallel to the first one).

Fold the next stalk over stalks one and three (It will be parallel to the second stalk).

Continue to work in a circular fashion until you have used up tour wheat stalks or created enough of a woven centre to the cross.

Hold the stalks together carefully and tie each end together with string or cotton so the cross won't fall apart.

Brighid's Cross
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Page last updated: 22 September, 2011

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