It’s dump, grey and drizzly outside, one of the days when heavy blankets of clouds seem cast anchored above the very west of Europe. Nevertheless, today, I choose to think about the bright, sunny days ahead of us and celebrate the first day of spring as the ancient Celts on the shores of Ireland did. Those lads and lassies came up with all sorts of excuses for a good party and trust me, this didn’t change in to this day.
The Celtic year used to be divided in 2 halves, one of darkness and one of light. The start of the dark half, Samhain, fell around what is the 31st October in the Gregorian calendar, but we’ll leave that story for the Halloween time. The light half of the Celtic year, Beltane, started around the 1st of May.
But not only did the Celts celebrate both, they came up with 2 other reasons to party: on the 1st of February they celebrated Imbolc (means milking, in milk) and on the 1st of August Lughnasadh . Imbolc was the time when ewes and cows lactated, warm, sunny days were around the corner, the mother nature was waking up and becoming more friendly. Wouldn’t you celebrate it to?
The first of February was also the day of the goddess Brighid, the goddess of arts, crafts and prophecy, known by a number of other, similar names. As it happened with many pagan festivals, after Christianity settled in Ireland, the 1st of February was turned into the feast of St Brigid, who remained one of the main Irish saints to this day.
Ireland, that I got to know, is not as religious as the world expects it to be. Nevertheless the Irish do follow their traditions and I see many immigrants easily adopting them, as well and since the Viking times becoming more Irish than the Irish themselves.
So, spring it is!
Note: St Brigid’s monastic site is in town of Kildare, which is a great day trip from Dublin, especially if you are into horses, because the fantastic Irish National Stud is based there. A tip: visit the stud at the beginning of March, when sweet foals run around lawns.