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Secrets of St. Brigid’s Day - Imbolc, a Celtic Goddess and a Saint

It is chilly here in Dublin but we can see light on the horizon! Soon it will be February 1st, St. Brigid’s day and the start of Spring in Ireland.

A CELTIC GODDESS

Brigid was the Celtic Goddess of poetry, healing and fertility with her feast day, Imbolc, celebrated each February 1. Imbolc is one of the four important annual festivals in the old Irish calendar recorded in Irish mythology and medieval Irish texts and means “in the belly” in old Irish.  The feast day marked the beginning of spring and new life. Rush crosses and small figures of Brigid, Brídeóg, were fashioned and hung in homes and stables to protect the health of people and livestock.

Brideog_StrawFigure
A modern day straw Brídeóg from Co.Galway continuing this Celtic tradition. Image from Meath Chronicle

A CHRISTIAN SAINT

St Brigid of Kildare was reportedly born a slave in Dundalk around 451 AD. Through hard work and clear focus, she rose to become a nun, abbess and a founder of several monasteries, most notably in Kildare. She educated hundreds of women who otherwise would have gone without and refused an arranged marriage to dedicate her life to charity and the church.

StBrigid
St. Brigid pictured sheltering the monastery at Kells, one of the most impressive pieces of her legacy.

The story of the lovely cross which bears her name has several tellings. The most famous sees her weaving a cross from rushes that were covering the floor at the bedside of a dying pagan chieftain.  As St. Brigid explained the cross, her words soothed the dying man and he was moved to be baptized before passing away in peace.

St. Brigid is said to have peacefully passed away herself on February 1st, AD 523. In the centuries that followed, Irish people have celebrated their patron saint by making and displaying her cross to bless their home each year.

BrigidCross
A traditional St. Brigid’s Cross carefully woven from new green rushes.


And with time and the retelling, the mythology of the Celtic goddess and the Saint have become inextricably linked.

BRIGID’S CROSS

Brigid’s cross, along with the shamrock and the harp, is a lovely symbol of Ireland that can trace it’s roots back to Celtic mythology. Crafted from rushes or straw on January 31st, the eve of St. Brigid’s day, the cross is woven left to right, after the movement of the sun. It has a layered square at its centre with four arms radiating out, each one tied at the ends.

SterlingSilverStBrigidsCrosses
A few of our beautifully crafted St. Brigid’s crosses with a double sided design that recreates the texture of the traditional reed crosses in Sterling Silver.

A TRADITIONAL BLESSING

It is this wonderful history that inspired the design of our Brigid’s Crosses, recreating the intricate woven texture of rushes in silver and gold.

TwoToneGoldDiamondSetCross
A lovely Two-Tone St Brigid Cross set with a diamond in the center. A lovely delicate piece of jewelry and a lovely symbol of Ireland worn proudly by many in Ireland and worldwide


A traditional blessing for St. Brigid Cross is “May the blessing of God and the Trinity be on this cross and where it rests and on everyone who looks at it.”

And if you fancy a cross of your own you could always make one or you can browse our selection of Brigid’s Cross necklaces and brooches here or get in touch with us and we would be delighted to help you identify the right choice for you.

 

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