Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Imbolc



Have you noticed the days growing longer? The ancients did and created stories and rituals not only to convey and value, but to prove this knowledge was important. Get a cuppa as we make sense of February.

The Roman festival Februa, gives its name to our second month. Celebrated near the 15th, it was set aside for ritual cleaning and purification, look closely you'll see it's still commemorated.

The early Christian church worked overtime to refashion pagan ritual into Christian messages, an ongoing theme throughout the calendar. Any mid winter Christian purification rituals come to mind? Ash Wednesday and Lent for starters.

The Celtic feast Imbolc, the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox takes place tonight. Imbolc, from the Celtic meaning lactating sheep, since by now lambing has begun, visual proof to an uneducated people that the world is reawakening from the winter slumbers.


Imbolc celebrates the coming of spring, preparation for planting. In traditional Irish culture it was also marked the time when wild animals began to emerge from their winter dens. Winter weather prognostication is a popular Imbolc sport.

The Imbolc patroness, Brighid, the Bride, later St. Brigid, (who's feast day is today), patroness of hearth and home is said to be greeted by serpents on Imbolc. It would later take a Christian male to rid Ireland of serpents.

Tomorrow, Groundhog Day in the US, has many pagan antecedents. February 2 is Candlemas or the Presentation in the Christian calendar.

Throughout Italy, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, good weather at Candlemas is taken to indicate severe winter weather later. An English rhyme sounds vaguely familiar. "If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, / winter will have another bite. / If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, / winter is gone and will not come again." Tie that with reawakening animals and you have Ground Hog Day.



Judging by the look out my window, I''ll be opening the pool in a few weeks.

Toad

8 comments:

James said...

As always ,a wonderful start to the day is reading your post. Thank you.

Mom on the Run said...

When I was young I was always looking around corners for spring....I guess I took it quite literally that if the groundhog didn't see his shadow spring was "just around the corner."

Shelley said...

Great post - looks like winter is going to chew on us again over here.

Barbara said...

You did some research for this post, Toad. Nice.
But all I can say to your last statement is: You wish.
You guys up north are really getting nailed this year. Spring can't come soon enough for all of you.

LPC said...

Any holiday named after lactation is OK by me.

Karena said...

Toad I sure felt the same way about the pool opening, with our blizzard!

Be sure to enter my amazing Giveaway from Splenderosa!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Karena said...

Or rather Wish I felt the same way!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Ford said...

This is why I'll never stop reading, Toad. Great post, wonderful information, thank you for sharing.