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Family Circle – Imbolc/Brigid – All are welcome!

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

Welcome to the Family Circle thread! The January topic is Imbolc. Or feel free to ask questions or discuss any related topic.


Imbolc is modernly celebrated on February1st or 2nd. It is sometimes celebrated according to the moon – new moon in Aquarius which is February 3rd.


This is the first of 3 spring holidays in the Pagan Wheel of the Year. This holiday is also called Imbolg or Oimelc. Imbolc means “in the belly” and refers to newly pregnant animals like goat and sheep. Oimelc refers to “ewes milk” or lactation. Historically milk and butter were honored at this time to celebrate the coming spring.


There is also a strong Celtic connection to this holiday – it is sacred the Goddess Brigid (Brighid, Brigit, Bridget). It is known as Brighid’s feast day, called Bride’s Day. It’s celebrated as a time to honor the Maiden, for purification and healing. Emphasis on light, flame and candles, but also healing water and wells.


In the Catholic tradition St Bridget is honored on this day, as well as Candlemas and Purification of the Virgin. I am not sure if these are all the same holiday. Anyone know?


Also celebrated on Feb 2nd is Groundhog’s day. This may seem like a random event but it’s no coincidence! As Imbolc honors the first stirrings of spring, noticing the ground dwelling animals popping back up is a good sign! Also weather predictions for the coming year was important.


Discussion ~


Anyone celebrate these holidays with family? What do you do? Have any traditions or rituals to share?


I will post more details and info later on. Looking forward to a great discussion this month!!





Edited by rhianna813 - 1/4/11 at 12:33pm
post #2 of 35
I'll be watching this thread for ideas. Our POV is a Christian one, but we are also attuned to the cycle of the year and have a deep reverence for nature. As Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers, we are always looking for more ways to enrich our family traditions celebrating the year.

As I understand it, Candlemas is a time to bless the year's candles because of the tradition that when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple 40 days after childbirth for the ritual cleansing, and elder named Simeon recognized the Christ child and sang the Nunc Dimitis, which goes:

Nunc dimittis

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
     according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
     which thou hast prepared before the face of all people,
to be a light to lighten the Gentiles,
     and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Luke 2:29-32
So the theme in Christianity is light. I love, also, that Bridget is both pre-Christian and Christian patroness of childbirth and midwifery, so celebrating both the birth of the year's coming bounty and the ending of the cycle of celebration of the birth of the Christ seems so right to me.

As a Christian, it also is the last of the light-themed festivals of Winter that we celebrate....next up is the relative darkness of Lent. (and I never thought of this, but the traditions of six more weeks of Winter and the six weeks of Lent have a striking similarity, too).

We will celebrate by making ice lanterns for lighting our front and back entries to the house. We will mark the mid-point between Solstice and Equinox by drawing our shadows in chalk at noon (we're measuring these at several points in the year, both to observe the Sun and how much growing is going on at our house these days!). We're going to have crepes for dinner (both a Christian tradition and an older one, as they represent the sun). We will ask a blessing on our candles and say a thanksgiving to the bees for their gift to us of candles. I will put away the crèche, too.

I'd love to hear how others plan to celebrate.
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 

Hi Gwen - Welcome!! Thanks for posting :-)


More Imbolc info...


Apart of the purification aspect of Imbolc/Brigid is the obvious need to cleanse from the heaviness of the winter holidays. The decorations, parties, guests, and clutter ones house experiences. Especially being so closed up to keep warm. House cleansing both spiritual and physical can occur now.


Pack away the Yule decorations, dust and sweep, open the doors and windows on a clear day and air the house out. A good time to sage the house. A good time to bless your broom and use it to sweep away the bound up energy and dust bunnies.  Sage or sweep each room clockwise until you end up at a doorway to sweep it all outside! ~*~*~ Kids of any age can help with this ~*~*~


I sometimes keep my nice broom – a handcarved one with natural straw – near my front door at Imbolc. As decoration and to keep the energy moving.



post #4 of 35

This thread is much appreciated - time to request children's stories from the library about St. Brigid and about groundhogs to have on hand!


To add to the coincidence of holidays, Feb. 3, Aquarius new moon, is also the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival for much of the world's population. We will be entering the year of the Rabbit - a good excuse to bring out the Ostara bunnies early! (And Feb 3 is also my son's birthday, so we will be able to have celebration upon celebration this year!)


We are not Asian, but pay attention to this holiday every year as a way of learning about Asian cultures. We read Chinese folk tales, feast on Asian  food, and totally clean out our house before the New Year, as is traditional - that coincides with the suggestions of pp! There is really a resonance between all the holidays that come around in early February.  There are lots of sites on celebrating the Chinese New Year with children and the celebration goes on for two weeks - here is an outline.  We will celebrate the birthday of all dogs with some doggy activities on day 2 of the New Year for example. 


I also plan to be dipping some beeswax candles for family birthdays for the year to honor Candlemas.  


I love the ice lantern idea.  We are in a cold spell through to the end of January, so we will be doing ice lanterns and freezing colored water in muffin tins with loops of string to hang on trees.  I learned in our climate to seize the day and do this when the cold snap is here when we had a thaw in early Feb one year and couldn't have the outdoor decorations out from Imbolc through Valentine's Day, as we'd wished. 

post #5 of 35

Feb 1st....Bread with handmade butter. Lamb stew.


We are agnostic with pagan leanings here. I love to give these traditional nods to the seasons in my home.


Also, now that the kids are old enough we do watch the movie "Groundhog Day " as a tradition on the 2nd. This always leads to marvelous discussions with my kids about life and the lack of dress rehearsal for one's life. We have to be open for what comes but we have to have grace to start over if things get dicey.

post #6 of 35

I used to make candles and butter with my kids for Imbolc. :) We'd turn off all the lights in the house after placing a new candle in each room, several in the living room. Then we'd light them one by one and talk about what light means to us, figuratively and literally. We'd read stories of light, or seeing things in a new light. It was super cool. We'd eat homemade bread and homemade butter., do divinations, and have fun in the candlelight.

post #7 of 35

I needle felted a Brigid for our altar, the kids and I clean the hearth. We used to cook over our fireplace but we have a pellet stove, so I think will we rise bread on our hearth instead.


Yum, making butter. Might have to add that to our day. We usually celebrate on the 2nd.


So far that is our plan.

post #8 of 35



We do something close to this. Very yummy and fun with the littles.

post #9 of 35

We'll be making candles together this year and making honey cake. We are on a Christopagan path so we will also be reading from the Sermon on the Mount as we celebrate Jesus as "the light of the world" and tie that in with the strengthening of the sun. We believe Jesus' teachings to be the light he brought to the world (among other people. We just hold Christ as our teacher) so we read the Sermon on the Mount at this time and also at the Summer Solstice.


We'll talk about the light of the Sun and of Christ and of knowledge- all three illuminate and warm us. All three help us to grow as people in different ways. All three are connected as we are all connected. I think we'll do a reading of this story in the candle light, too (link is a PDF) as we'll also be talking about Spring coming. 

post #10 of 35

Have any of you made candles with little ones? I was thinking about doing this with my almost four year old daughter this year, as part of our celebration.

post #11 of 35
Originally Posted by revolting View Post

Have any of you made candles with little ones? I was thinking about doing this with my almost four year old daughter this year, as part of our celebration.

Not as of yet. I just watched a YouTube video on how to make rolled beeswax candles. That seems a lot easier and a lot less dangerous to do with littler children. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn2UTbdCmLw The music is kind of loud.

post #12 of 35
Thread Starter 

Great posts everyone! It is wonderful to see so much interest in this holiday :-)


Here is some information on Brighid the Goddess....


Brighid is a Celtic triple Goddess of Poetry, Healing and Smithcraft.


Brighid’s name has many spellings because she was a wide spread European Goddess:

Brigid, Bride, Bridey, Brighid, Brigit, Briggidda and Brigantia.  Pronounciation is Breed or Breet. As her Christian Saint she is known as Mary of the Gaels, midwife of Jesus.


Her names means Exalted One. Also Bright One or Bright Arrow. She is considered both a Fire (smithcraft) and Water (healing) Goddess. She is probably a solar diety, which can be unusual for a Goddess. Rivers (and wells) are named after her: Brigit (Ireland), Braint (Wales) and Brent (England).


She is the Goddess of inspiration, wisdom, poetry, reading, writing (all three Bardic arts) , smith/metalcraft, the forge, fire, hearths, homefires, protector of warriors, women, children and childbirth, midwifery, healing and water.


Her sacred animal is the cow. Also snakes, ewes and all hibernating animals like groundhogs.

Her symbols are solar crosses/Brigit wheels, braids, corn/wheat dollies, beds, candles, hearths, fires, forge, anvil, cloaks/mantles, wells, rivers, milk, butter, oak, number 19.


In Kildare (Cill Dara) she had a temple with 19 priestesses keeping an Eternal Flame lit in her honor. The priestess were replaced with nuns through time but the fire was kept burning. The Goddess became the Saint. The fire was put out sometime in the 16th century. In 1993 a new fire at Kildare was relit. http://www.kildare.ie/kildareheritage/?page_id=44


Also in Kildare is Brighid’s well: http://kildare.ie/heritage/historic-sites/st-bridgets-well.asp


More information on the Brighid:





Recommended books: I have just have one on the subject...


Candlemas: Feast of Flames by Amber K. Excellent book! Includes Goddess and Saint info, Imbolc info, activities, recipes, customs and more. http://www.amazon.com/Candlemas-Feast-Flames-Holiday-Amber/dp/0738700797/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294695364&sr=8-1



post #13 of 35

I was planning on ice lanterns too. And maybe freezing some flower blooms too - so we remember under all the ice will are some flowers waiting to bloom.  I was also going to do a celebration of Chinese New Year (a salmon cake and dumpling dinner, since they are red fish). I think we'll also do a red dinner - mostly since I think mono-chromatic dinners are fun.  Okay, its going to be a red month (don't forget the V-day).  We have been celebrating full moons as well - and Feb is the Snow Moon or Full Hunger Moon. So I think we'll make a special donation to the food bank.  Feb 1 is special here (southcentral Alaska) because it is when the sun has a smidge of warmth to it again - not much, but just enough to make you remember.

post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 

Activities and craft projects....


Brighid Cross


A Brighid cross is a solar disk shape that can be made of metal, straw, corn husk, plastic straws, pipecleaners, paper and more. Fun project for the family. My DH has made these out of copper wire for wall hangings – they are lovely to display all year round.


Once made you can hang them about the house or on your front door for good luck.


Instructions: http://www.fisheaters.com/stbrigidscross.html




Corn dolly


A corn dolly is a little person made of “corn”. It represents Brighid as the Maiden of early spring. In Europe “corn” is wheat/straw or other grains, not corn on the cob LOL Corn dollies are woven from wheat stalks. But here in the Americas we can use corn (maize) husks to make dollies just as easily. So feel free to use either for this project.


Corn husk instructions: http://www.teachersfirst.com/summer/cornhusk.htm


You can hang your corn dolly around your house to honor Brighid and for good luck and fertility. We made these last year at a friends house and my DS really loved it.



Bride’s Bed


On Imbolc the corn dolly Brighid (or called Bride) is laid in a small bed for the night. And sometimes she’s not alone LOL A wand can be laid beside her for fertility. The bed is usually a basket.  I can personally attest to the success of the Bride’s bed and have a November child as the outcome J


Here is some info and picture, with short ritual: http://www.squidoo.com/brigidscrosshowto



post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 

Songs and poems:


Here are some songs related to Brighid. If you do not know the tune, consider reading them as poems or blessings.


Way to the Well by Starhawk


We will never
Never lose our way to the well
Of Her memory
And the power
Of her living flame
It will rise
It will rise again


Holy Water, Sacred Flame  by Anne Hill (Circle Round and Sing CD)


Holy water, Sacred flame / Brighid we invoke your name

Bless my hands, my head, my heart /Source of wisdom, song and art



Queen of Fire by Jennifer Reif


Her Sacred Flame and Her Holy Fire

Light of Brigit! (clap)

Light and Power
Mother of Flame and Queen of Fire

Bring us Your Light and Your Healing Power
Bring us Your Light and Your Healing Power



Here is a link to 2 pieces of poetry about Brighid in the Carmina Gadelica (written between 1855 and 1910). They are written in Gaelic and English. The site also has some modern poetry:



post #16 of 35

Every year I gather with loved ones and we sing songs.  Sometimes we make candles.  Also, I always wait to make my New Year's Resolutions at Imbolc, because they stick better for me that way.

post #17 of 35

Wonderful thread!


I've always wanted to make a red velvet cake for Imbolc, like a fire-within-ice kind of idea.


If I get it done, I'm posting pictures.

post #18 of 35
Thread Starter 

I am thinking about having an Imbolc Tea and Candles "party" for Imbolc. But not a typical party, more of an open house - very casual. We have old pots and tons of old candles we use to make new candles. So I thought I would get that out on the kitchen stove, have some tea water going and have some food to serve. Food ideas are vegan Potato Leek soup, crustless quiche, smoked salmon dip and veggies and maybe apple crisp. These are foods we normally eat so not a huge bother to make. Should be fine for my friends various dietary needs LOL


Then just invite my friends to drop by anytime that afternoon to chat, have a snack and make a candle. I am just not sure when to do this.... Originally I thought of Sunday the 30th because it's the weekend. But I probably need to wait for payday to fund the snacks. That was the caveat DH voiced. I work full time, but have taken Mon 31 and Tues 1 off as vacation days. DS will be in school until 2:30, but it's ok to start before he gets home. A lot of my friends work from home or part time or homeschool their kids so people might be free on M or T afternoon. Is evening better?


I'd love any feedback on date, time or if this sounds like a good idea :-)



post #19 of 35

Rhianna - that sounds like an awesome idea. I'd probably want to steal with it, if I had a lot of old candles and had older kids. (We will probably do the rolled beeswax idea, since my kids are almost one and almost four; it'd just be too $$$ to do it as a party.)

post #20 of 35
Thread Starter 

Want a sweet treat project for Imbolc? We made these last year and it was a ton of fun!


Groundhog Day cupcakes: http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/groundhog-day-cupcake-685681/


Ok mine didn't look nearly as nice as the pic above but DS and his friend had a great making them. I like how you can use crumbled chocolate cake over white frosting to look like dirt in the snow.


A weather prediction saying goes.... "If Brighid's day be bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year".



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