Imbolc or Brigid is the name of the sacred holiday that marks the exact midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. It is known as the stirring of the seeds, the beginning of the return to the Light, the sacred day of the Goddess Brigid/Brigit/Bride. When the Christians took over Ireland, they successfully turned the people away from all of their goddesses - all but one. Brigid was so loved by Her people that they refused to part with her. So, the Christians began to call her "saint Brigit" and they allowed the people to continue their tradition of tending the sacred flame and the sacred well of the Goddess. It is still tended carefully to this day. Also, the Church kept the (pagan) tradition of blessing all candles to be used in ceremony on Brigid's day - February 2nd. Today, we were lucky enough to honor Brigid all day long with friends and with family.
We had homeschool co-op at our house this morning. The kids helped me make a batch of oatmeal white wheat bread dough before everyone got here, so that it could be rising during Circle. When all of the children arrived, we lit our special Brigid candle, sang the Circle song, and talked a little about this special time of the year. We talked about how seeds are beginning to awaken under ground, animals (particularly lambs) are beginning to be born, and people are planning gardens and other things for Spring time. We discussed Brigid and I told the kids that making bread is a traditional thing to do on Her day. We read a beautiful story book called _When Batastine Made Bread_ by Treska Lindsey. This is a special book for our family because a few years ago we lived right across the goat pasture from the dear woman who wrote it. After the story, we blew out our candle and each of the children made a little loaf of oatmeal bread.
While the bread was rising, the kids ran out to play in the unusually warm February weather. They had so much fun outside. As part of my co-op plan, I wanted to make butter with the kids. The cow is sacred to Brigid, and besides what goes best with warm homemade bread? So, I put a cup of raw heavy cream and four marbles into a mason jar and started shaking. When Clover came inside and saw me, she wanted to shake the jar, too. We passed it around to all of the kids, and Clover took pictures. It was so amazing to hear the marbles go from clanking around on the glass jar to making little muffled sounds to making no sound at all. The kids were pretty amazed at the power to make butter so easily. It was lots of fun!
After a buttery bread snack and more outdoor play, everyone went home. Tim got here pretty soon afterwards, and we celebrated Brigid as a family. We had a delicious candlelit dinner, said Brigid blessings, and talked about our wishes for Spring. Each year on Brigid we have a special dessert - Brigid cake. It is a chocolate cake with some sort of white topping. This year I made brownies and maple whipped cream. The brown cake represents the Earth and the white topping is the snow. We each light our own little candle from a central candle on the table, say one wish for Spring time, and "plant" our candle in the cake. Then we blow out the candle and eat! In this way, we are letting our own small "seeds" (ideas) be planted in our minds and hearts & we hope that they grow in the upcoming warm months. I just love celebrations!!