Today is Saint Brigid’s Day, February 1st, one of the four patron saints of Ireland. This day is known as Lá Fhéile Bríde.
February 1st is also the day of the Celtic Feast Imbolc. It was also associated with the Celtic Goddess Bridget. Many of the Celtic feast days were adopted by the early Christians.
Traditionally on the eve of St. Brigid’s Day a cross would be made. It was said that Brigid was converting a dying pagan to Christianity and in order to explain the faith to him she needed a cross. The only thing to hand were some rushes which she made into a cross. and then proceeded to explain certain aspects of Christian faith to the man.
St. Brigid’s Crosses were traditionally given to neighbours and friends as gifts. If a St. Brigid’s Cross was placed above the door it meant that everyone was welcome. It was also thought to protect the home.
Brigid had been a milkmaid prior to becoming a nun. It was said that she could get more milk from a cow than anyone else. She used travel the country as a nun converting the Irish to Christianity accompanied by a white cow with red ears.
A piece of white ribbon was left outside for the saint to bless. This was then kept near the hall door for the rest of the year. It was also the day when food was given to those who didn’t have any.
The special meal on the day always had pancakes to signify the dairy link to St. Brigid. These pancakes however were served with butter or fresh cream as opposed to the tradition of lemon and sugar on Pancake Tuesday.
In case St. Brigid on her travels calls to your door it is traditional to leave bread and butter on the window sill and some corn for the cow.
Lá Fhéile Bríde shona dhuit. Happy St. Brigid’s Day.