01 February 2023


First: Thank you all so much for your kind and thoughtful comments!

Today is Imbolc/St Brigid’s day. We are half-way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Today, the light takes over. When I left for work the birds were singing and the sunrise was almost there. It felt so very hopeful. 

In Ireland this day is now a public holiday, the first Irish public holiday named after a woman, to mark the beginning of spring and the Celtic New Year. 

I have posted this many times before on or around this day. Many traditions are observed on this day, both here and in Ireland. 

My Irish mother in law would go to mass and bring back a St. Brigid's cross, freshly blessed, and put it inside above the front door to prevent any of the bad spirits entering. It definitely worked, that or her dogs.

Today, her heathen son stands by the kitchen window watching the birds, convinced that they are more active because of St. Brigid. Seriously, I ask. Come one, he laughs, you know what I mean. The light, of course.

My mother, a dedicated atheist and scientist, would light candles on this day, which is known as Maria Lichtmess (Mary's feast of light) in Franconia. 

The Celts, of course, celebrated in style, with bonfires, dancing and dipping of their hands into wells. It's raining now, not so sure about a little bonfire later on, but we've dipped our hands into the rain water barrel and we did some dancing at breakfast.

Anyway, isn't it just the most hopeful day in the year. 


All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks

Are life eternal: and in silence they

Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;

There's nothing mortal in them; their decay

Is the green life of change; to pass away

And come again in blooms revivified.

Its birth was heaven, eternal is its stay,

And with the sun and moon shall still abide

Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.

John Clare



  1. I love the Celtic seasons, especially Imbolc when the light returns.

  2. Blessed Imbolc/Brigid's Day to you all!

  3. I am definitely ready for more light!

  4. A beautiful day to celebrate!

  5. wow, do you believe if i say, i have never heard of this. I assume it is true for here too, I still do not get its significance; half way where? I love it though, and i love it how you all celebrate no matter ones outlook in life. I will join you in a little dance today! thanks

    1. The Celtic people (who probably originated in Asia/India and have lived in Central Europe from around 1000 BC, with descendants now mainly in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany) were what science calls pagan and polytheist. The Celtic year was/is seen as a cycle of events roughly every six weeks, defined by the position of sun and moon. Imbolc is the Gaelic name for the time point halfway between midwinter and spring equinox. From this day forward, in Europe and esp. in the west of Europe, there are more daylight hours than non-daylight ones in a 24 hour period.
      Check out Wheel of the Year here:

    2. Thank you, but i do think i don't understand what you say about the daylight hours. To me it is around March 21 that the sun is for 12 hours above the horizon and for 12 hours below, and i think that is over the whole world, and again Sept 21 but then we start loosing light in the Northern hemisphere. You must mean something else. I do love February because the extra light, and for me up north here, still lots of snow (reflects light), no leaves on the trees ( no shade) and the sun is still low so it is straight in my window. So i will from now on celebrate this Imbolc day! thanks

    3. Sorry, of course you are correct. I am a bit fuddled and meant halfway between midwinter, (ie what was for rural people then darkness) to spring equinox. When the sun rises before 8 am, as it does now, this is a day of light for people working with nature because all your working hours outside are within sunrise and sunset.

  6. Good to experience another Imbolc/St. Brigid's Day with you and R and hear Luka Bloom and read John Clare. Was just listening to an interview with Rebecca Solnit who talked about hope. The birds are active here today (-:

  7. It's only been in the last few years that I've become aware of Imbolc and today I looked up how to pronounce it properly. It's nice to see the sun come back and to notice that the days are longer. It's snowing and cold here today but I'm making Thai chicken thighs which will be nice to enjoy on a cold day.

    I haven't dipped my hands into a well, but I am going to do dishes in the sink. Hopefully that counts:)

  8. The early days of spring, even the cold ones, seem all about hope. The very beginning of the best time of the year. There is so much to look forward to. Thank you for the poem, an apt gift for St. Brigid's Day.

  9. T.S.Eliot, writing the foreword to an Everyman edition of Pascall's Pensées, feels it necessary to observe: "The British are basically non-religious but are endlessly fascinated by those who are religious." Or something in that price bracket. Brits are traditionally said to dislike the Irish or - at the very least - to distrust them, one reason being most Brits have never visited Ireland. As a devotee of Portrait of an Artist, Dubliners, and - of course - Ulysses I could no more dislike/distrust the Irish than I could my own mother. But I have to say that a three-day professional visit to Ireland - at the invitation of the country's tourist board - chauffeured by an indigenous and charming single mother, strong in her feminism and close to qualifying as the worst driver in the world, cemented a complex feeling of affection for Ireland that still endures. And, despite my hard-line atheism, I wonder if some of this affection relates to Eliot''s observation. That there is always this religious undercurrent with the Irish even where they swear blind they're "done with all that". As the Jesuits say, "Give me a child for X years..."

    What a wonderful position you occupy to discourse knowledgeably on a variant of this situation. And how wise you've been (apparently) not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Leaving me on the untutored fringes, merely wondering how one pronounces Imbolc.

    1. A lot has changed in Ireland since Eliot wrote his bit. Ireland is now a country where the near majority of people state that they have no religious affiliation. The catholic church is seen as a problem, same-sex marriage has been legalised with massive public support and religious schools are in the process of being secularized. What hasn't changed is the concept about Ireland abroad, not just in the UK, where the standard idea of backward, poverty stricken, religious, loudmouthed, silly, drunk Oirish - with a handful of great writers and musicians thrown in - seems to rule.

    2. No special tricks apply when pronouncing imbolc, just say it.