Perhaps one of the most quietly exciting festivals of the Celtic year, Imbolc is a celebration of the awakening natural world and a time of cleansing. On our forays outside, we begin to see new life poking through the soil and buds tightening on trees. Imbolc is a time for bringing new ideas and projects into the burgeoning light, for growing what we have been reflecting on over the winter months.
𝔐𝔞𝔨𝔢 𝔞 𝔅𝔯𝔦𝔤𝔦𝔡 𝔰𝔱𝔯𝔞𝔴 𝔡𝔬𝔩𝔩
One way to bring the magic of Brigid into your homes at Imbolc is to make a Brideog (pronounced Bree-jog). This was traditionally undertaken by the men in the home and the little Brideogs were hung over the doors of people’s homes. Brideogs are made with straw or rushes twisted into the shape of a doll, wrapped in white fabric to represent a little dress and decorated with the first flowers, greenery from the garden, and other pretty things you find in nature.
𝔐𝔞𝔨𝔢 𝔞 𝔅𝔯𝔦𝔤𝔦𝔡 𝔠𝔯𝔬𝔰𝔰
Brigid crosses were also made at this time of year and may be familiar if you had a country childhood. Straw which has been soaked overnight is woven around a frame made of sticks. For younger kids you might want to use pipe cleaners. There are many different styles, some with three or four arms, Googling Brigid crosses comes up with various ideas for your family. Hang your Brigid cross wherever you like in your home, but children’s were usually hung over their bed. It was believed that a Brigid cross tucked under the mattress helped aid conception, and they were used to bless seed before planting in spring.
𝔉𝔢𝔞𝔰𝔱𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔣𝔦𝔯𝔢
Another Imbolc tradition, as with many Celtic celebrations, is the lighting of fires. Fires celebrated not only the Fire Goddess Brigid, but also recognised the returning power of the sun. In the Christian calendar, Imbolc is known as Candlemas, when candles are lit for Virgin Mary. Lighting a fire is a good opportunity to gather with friends and family, and reflect, share and laugh together. Imbolc was also a time of feasting so you might want to make some food you can cook in the fire, and toast some marshmallows!
𝔖𝔭𝔯𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔠𝔩𝔢𝔞𝔫 𝔶𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔥𝔬𝔪𝔢
Now is the perfect time for a good spring clean of your home, usually undertaken before Imbolc Eve. Get rid of anything that is cluttering up your home and stagnating the energy, and scrub all the surfaces down thoroughly. If you can bear the cold, open all the windows and let some refreshing clean air flow through your home. Making it in to preparation for a celebration is also a great way to tempt kids to tackle their rooms and get rid of toys they don’t want any more!
𝔙𝔦𝔰𝔦𝔱 𝔞 𝔰𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔪, 𝔯𝔦𝔳𝔢𝔯 𝔬𝔯 𝔴𝔢𝔩𝔩
Traditionally, Imbolc was a time for visiting holy water; a spring or a well, to both purify us and bring fertility to our dreams. Why not set off on an adventure together as a family to find some water near your home: a river, stream, or well. If the water’s clean, splash some over yourself as you set your intention to cleanse and purify. Glennie Kindred suggests dipping a piece of ribbon in the water and then hanging it from a nearby tree (trees near water are especially sacred) to carry messages of hope and healing. She also reminds us to thank the spirits of the place you visit and pick up any rubbish you see nearby as an act of gratitude.