01 February 2012


     If we are to understand our ancestors' lives, we need to develop an appreciation for their culture and tradition. In the States, our impression of Irish culture is formed by our St. Patrick's Day celebrations and our Irish shops full of leprechauns and shamrocks. (I must insert a disclaimer here--I do possess a rather large collection of leprechauns. Mostly gifts, plus a few cuties I just had to buy, I love and treasure them!). But we Americans don't often understand how deeply the Irish culture is rooted in ancient Celtic and early Christian beliefs and traditions.
     I have been thinking about ancient Celtic traditions because today, February 1st, is an important day on both the Celtic and Christian calendars--Imbolc in the Celtic tradition and St. Brigid's Day in the Christian. Imbolc is the ancient celebration of the arrival of spring. Over the years, the traditions of Imbolc combined with the legend of the ancient Celtic goddess Brigid. With the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, the celebration of St. Brigid's Day became transposed upon the ancient practices. So, today's celebration of the Irish spring combines all three traditions. For information on the Imbolc and Brigid traditions, along with other Celtic practices, see the links below.
     I have several Brigid's in my family tree, and my daughters both took the name Brigid when they were confirmed, in honor of their third great grandmother Brigid Kavanagh. So, this feast day is important to me, and each year I find myself wondering what ancient Celtic traditions might have been kept by my Brigid Kavanagh on her name day. I'll share some of the links I found during my "Imbolc" Internet wanderings below.