St. Brigid is a 5th century Irish Saint. And a Celtic fire goddess. How Christianity is interwoven with Celtic mythology is something that can only be sensibly discussed in an Irish pub! Indeed, the celebration of imbolg, about halfway between the winter solstice & the spring equinox, goes back even further. Through the times of the mythological Tuatha Dé Danann & probably further, all the way back to neolithic times. But whatever the origins, February 1st is celebrated as both imbolg & Lá Fhéile Bríde, St. Brigid’s Day.
Neighbours passing by our Canadian homes over the years have been treated to occasional displays of (mostly unrecognizable to them) flags of Irish counties, green lights on Paddy’s Day, & other traditional oddities. Nothing, though, is as strange as seeing scarves tossed onto winter-stripped shrubs at the end of January!
While we are usually still white & frozen at this time of year in Canada, in Ireland, spring is imminent. Crocuses & snowdrops have been blooming in January. And, this year, I’ve already seen pics of bright yellow narcissus blooms on the social media pages of my Irish friends. Though, sometimes, I feel like they’re growing them indoors & sharing pics with the sole purpose of irritating me! 😜
So what’s with the scarves on the bushes?
Brigid, the saint & the goddess both, have a large portfolio of responsibilities. She is the patron saint of farmers, milkmaids, blacksmiths, fisher folk, mariners, children, poets, & Lord knows what else. She stands, side by side, as a patron saint of Ireland, with her contemporary, St. Patrick. Known for her kindness & charity, Brigid is also famous for turning water into an endless supply of beer! Funny enough, she is not one of the patron saints of beer. Go figure!
Again, what is the thing about the scarves?
If you toss a ribbon or scarf out on a bush on the eve of St. Brigid’s Day, it’s said she passes by overnight to bless the cloths. These will then protect you for the next year. And they are reputed to cure ailments, like headaches, pains, & other afflictions! Probably worth a shot, if you are so afflicted.
Hey, if nothing else, especially during these pandemic times, it makes for a great interactive story opportunity for the kids. But, even for us adults, what’s the harm in having a scarf round our neck that’s been naturally freshened outside overnight! 😁
If you have covid-confined kids that you’d like to entertain, try making a St. Brigid’s cross. You’ll find plenty of simple instructions online. If you can’t find any reeds growing around your garden at this time of year, try plastic drinking straws, craft pipe cleaners, or cut strips of card stock. Very entertaining & a great time consumer for kids. That’ll be St. Brigid protecting your sanity during covid too. And I pray those refreshed scarves will keep us all safe ’til we’re vaccinated!
Stay safe out there & …
Happy St. Brigid’s Day! ☘️☘️☘️