The wheel of our year is turning to Imbolc which is also known as Brighid's Day or St Brighid’s Day. Traditionally it is a Gaelic festival that marks the start of spring. Typically the holiday is celebrated on either the 1st or 2nd of February. Here in the US this is also about the same date as Ground Hog Day. This places the holiday just about halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
Traditionally this festival was observed mainly in Gaelic Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Man in the Middle Ages. It’s suggested that Imbolc was originally a Pagan festival that was associated with the goddess Brighid and was later Christianized and turned into the festival of Saint Brighid.
As Imbolc is typically celebrated the day of or the day before Candlemas ‘feast day of Mary of the Candles’, it is sometimes referred to as ‘Candlemas’. Some Pagan traditions embrace this combination and prepare their candles for the year to come on this day. Its not uncommon to find that many Christian and Catholic holidays also fall on or near a Pagan holiday. When Christianity was beginning it was easier to convert Pagans by using holidays that they already celebrated.
The goddess Brighid is said to walk the earth on the eve of Imbolc. On the night before Imbolc have each member of your household leave an item of clothing or a strip of cloth outside for Brighid to bless as she walks on the earth. Around the clothing or cloth spread ash from your fireplace or sand. In the morning, look for some sort of mark in the ashes or sand as a sign that Brighid has come by them and blessed them. The clothing or strips of cloth can now be brought inside, and will have powers of healing and protection. These can be saved for use through out the year or as an item to be kept with you.
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