Tuesday, March 3, 2015

February the First Day of Spring... In Ireland!

St. Brigid’s Day, February 1, marks the start of Celtic spring.

Imbolc, known as the Feast of Brigid, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring.Photo by: Wikicommons
Imbolc, also known as the Feast of Brigid, on February 1, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring. It is one of the four major "fire" festivals (quarter days), referred to in Irish mythology from medieval Irish texts. The other three festivals on the old Irish calendar are Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain.
The word Imbolc means literally "in the belly" in the old Irish Neolithic language, referring to the pregnancy of ewes.
In ancient Irish mythology Brigid was a fire goddess. Nowadays her canonization is celebrated with a perpetual flame at her shrine in Kildare.
St. Brigid represents the Irish aspect of divine femininity in her role as patron of babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle farmers, children whose parents are not married, children whose mothers are mistreated by the children's fathers, Clan Douglas, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, Ireland, Leinster, mariners, midwives, milkmaids, nuns, poets, the poor, poultry farmers, poultry raisers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, travelers, and watermen. Here’s a busy saint! 
One folk tradition that continues in some homes on St. Brigid's Day (or Imbolc) is that of the Brigid's Bed. The girls and young, unmarried, women of the household or village create a corn dolly to represent Brigid, called the Brideog ("little Brigid" or "young Brigid"), adorning it with ribbons and baubles like shells or stones. They make a bed for the Brideog to lie in.
On St. Brigid's Eve (Jan 31), the girls and young women gather together in one house to stay up all night with the Brideog, and are later visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home, and then treat them and the corn dolly with respect.
Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve. Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless. The head of the household will smother (or "smoor") the fire and rake the ashes smooth.
In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.
On the following day, the girls carry the Brideog through the village or neighborhood, from house to house, where this representation of the saint/goddess is welcomed with great honor.
Adult women — those who are married or who run a household — stay home to welcome the Brigid procession, perhaps with an offering of coins or a snack. Since Brigid represents the light half of the year, and the power that will bring people from the dark season of winter into spring, her presence is very important at this time of year.
Neopagans of diverse traditions observe this holiday in a variety of ways. As forms of neopaganism can be quite different and have very different origins, these representations can vary considerably despite the shared name.
Some celebrate in a manner as close as possible to how the ancient Celts are believed to have observed the festival, as well as how these customs have been maintained in the living Celtic cultures. Other types of neopagans observe the holiday with rituals taken from numerous other unrelated sources, Celtic cultures being only one of the sources used.
Imbolc is usually celebrated by modern Pagans on February 1 or 2 in the Northern Hemisphere, and August 1 or 2 in the Southern Hemisphere, or at the solar midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox, which now falls later in the first week or two of February.

The daffodils are blossoming everywhere, and it's so exciting to see the colors of Spring all around us! They have planted along our car ride, and so as we travel to school each morning the boys get very excited as they see more and more flowers blooming. Gregory especially loves the coming of Spring! 

Also exciting about February is Valentine's Day. This year we found a babysitter or someone to mind our children, so that Stan and I could go out to dinner and have a proper Valentine's Day dinner. I've been wanting to visit the Bulman in Kinsale, so that is where we went. It was absolutely wonderful. The food was very nice. I had a tomato and pepper puree soup, tuna that was caught earlier that day, and sparkling water... I had to cheat a bit on my diet and had a yummy slice of cheese cake to make the evening perfect! It was great fun.

 Getting ready for date night, and the boys had fun taking photos! They love playing photographer when I let them :)

 Gregory has been losing more teeth! All four of his front teeth are missing! It will be weird when they have all grown back in. Gregory lost his first front tooth when he was 18 months old. I am so used to seeing these cute smile...

All ready for date night!

The boys love to mop. It's like a treat if they get to put on those yellow gloves and get the floor wet and soapy. I'm glad they love to work and feel good helping Mom around the house... It's not always this way, especially when we are just tidying up, but my boys are good workers for the most part.

I found George this morning cuddled up to a movie in William's baby crib. He is so adorable, and still wants to be a little guy. I cannot believe he will be joining Gregory in school this fall.

February flew by, it was a happy month in the Nelson home. Lots of readying and watching movies. I've also joined the Minecraft world, the boys are so pleased. I help them build awesome caves and castles, and they think it's very fun to have Mom play with them. This week we even figured how to play together in the same world using different devices. Fun stuff! I think I'm slowing turning into a nerd, being married to Stan and with three boys I mind as well join them now... it's inevitable!

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