Auk: Hang on, hang on! I want to tell them all about this one.
Freya: Oh, very well. Carry on, then.
Auk: Thank you. Imbolc is held on February 1st, and heralds the arrival of spring. The key figure of Imbolc was the goddess Brigid, who was said to visit people’s homes. Food and drink would be left out for her, and items of clothing placed outside so that she could bless them. It was also believed that she would protect homes and livestock. Brigid’s crosses would be made, and a figure of the goddess paraded from house to house. Torches were carried across fields and prayers made to Brigid to bless the ground before planting began. The holiday also involved feasting and visits to holy wells.
Anne: Incidentally, it is thought that the festival was Christianised to become the feast day of Saint Brigit of Kildare, who is one of Ireland’s patron saints. She is the saint of, amongst other things, cattle, brewers, blacksmiths, chicken farmers and children whose parents were unmarried.
Freya: There are also several festivals which take place on February 2nd. One of the most famous of these is Candlemas – or Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau, as we call it in Wales, which is also the Welsh equivalent of Imbolc. Activities traditionally included wassailing and rites of divination, and working by candlelight would be stopped, due to the lengthening of the days.
Anne: Well, whichever occasion yeh choose to celebrate, be it Christian or Pagan, we wish the lot o’ yis the best o’ times!
Freya: Absolutely! Hwyl fawr, everyone!
Auk: Oh yes, and a very happy Groundhog Day to you, if you’re reading this on February 2nd. I just hope those groundhogs decide that spring’s come early – I’m not sure how much more of winter we can all take…