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Candlemass: Imbolc: Ewe’s Milk:

In Ireland Candlemass is called Imbolc and begins at sunset on Feb. 1, continuing through sunset Feb. 2. Imbolc or Ol-melc means Ewe’s milk because the ewes are lactating at this time. Folcaim (I wash) because of the rites of purification.

Rushes are woven into Saint Brigid’s crosses to protect the home and are hung on the door. In the Aran Islands and some parts of County Galway, young people make a St. Brigid’s girdle or crios Bride – a straw rope of 8 to 10 feet tied in a loop, with four crosses attached. They bring it to all their neighbors, who each pass through it to receive protection from St. Brigid for the year (5).

Fion Sméar: Blackberry Wine is drunk to the health of Saint Brigid and it promotes fertility. Brigit’s white serpent comes out of the mound in which it hibernates, and it’s behavior is thought to determine the length of the remaining period of frost.

In the Highlands of Scotland, women gather and make an image of Brigit as a white Maiden with a crystal over her heart. They dress a corn doll or last sheaf (from Lammas or the autumn equinox) in a bridal gown and put her in a basket, which is called the Bride’s bed. A wand or candle is laid across her and Bride is invited to come, for her bed is ready. A loaf of bread is put on the windowsill for the Saint. (2)


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© 1998. Christine O’Keeffe Ver. 2.0. Wednesday, February 4, 2004