Imbolc is a pagan holiday celebrated from February 1 through sundown February 2. Based on a Celtic tradition, Imbolc was meant to mark the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland. Being creative during this time is thought to supercharge your goods with the energies of the new year.
It also celebrated the sun and fire goddess Brigid, later known as Saint Brigid. Following the lambing and the tilling of the sleeping earth, people come together in a “Feast of Fire” to wake up the world around them alongside their patron goddess.
Granted, it is sometimes hard to drop everything and go run out into fields while social distancing, and throwing seeds everywhere, so here are a couple of things we can do instead while social distancing this year. I have come up with a couple of ways we can all celebrate Imbolc while respecting our family, friends and neighbors while social distancing and taking care during this pandemic.
The Feast of Fire is showing gratitude for the potential of a fertile year, sustainability and, to put it simply, life. Having a successful farming year was a matter of survival and we can all feel this in regards to making sure we have what we need especially during those times when it can be difficult or even dangerous to go out and gather these things if you don’t have a full functioning food garden during this pandemic.
Despite that it has become a strange world to make a living and eat whenever you’re hungry. It’s important to remember that our ancestors spent their entire lives plowing fields, caring for their livestock and celebrating their good fortune with very little compared to the modern day. Below are some cooking ideas to help you through this strange time and make sure you are taking in the bounty of what you do have while showing gratitude:
Bonnach/Bannock Bread Recipe - Made with oats, fruits and nuts, Bonnach bread was the perfect offering to symbolize fertile health for the upcoming year. While some left it outside of their homes or next to holy wells, it was also eaten in the fields, where crumbs could be tossed into the dirt to encourage nourishment.
Mulled Wine - I made this while at the Northern California Renaissance Faire on a cool evening after a very long day of performing for the patrons. Mulled wine is one of the best drinks on a cold day. Take it outside to warm you up while you appreciate that the winter will soon be turning to spring!
Braided Bread - Braided sweet bread is a delicious and gorgeous homemade bread that looks as good as it tastes. With a sweetened golden top crust and fluffy bread inside, you’re going to love this sweet bread recipe.
Brigid was a teacher of “herb crafting” which also has an obvious connection to crops, fertility and spring. Crafting and art alone were specialties of hers and being creative during this time is thought to supercharge your goods with the energies of the new year.
Brigid’s Cross - These fun decorations were usually made out of plants called rushes to hang over doorways or beds, which brought luck and protection while warding off disease or bad juju. If you don’t have rushes, you can use straw, corn or broomcorn leaves or a more sturdy form of raffia.
Wildflower Seed Bombs - Wildflower seed bombs are better than seeds as being nutrient-rich they give the plants a head start to grow. Each seed bomb is a combination of seed, peat-free compost and clay. Search online or visit this link provided by The Wildlife Trust.
Floral Bath Tea Soak - Not everything has to be shared on the holidays. Self Care is very important especially during these sometimes stressful times. Why don’t you do something for yourself and enjoy a relaxing bath with Hedgemade Goods organically grown, handcrafted herbal bath teas and tub tabs available year round! You can also make something special and personal from your own garden and this can be done anytime self care is needed.
There are two major times a year I do a super clean, one being the end of Samhain, the other being the beginning of Imbolc. Both of these times of year mark the birth and death of many things, which can often leave lingering energies, spirits or just ick. Sweep out what no longer serves you whether it be weird energies, past issues, 2020 and dust, of course!
Start your seeds, folks! It’s the time of year when you should be getting your outdoor seedlings ready for planting. This can be a calming, cathartic experience to involve yourself with plant life and to start shedding the cloak of the winter mood. In some zones, it’s nearly impossible to start seeds outside due to bad weather conditions and so you have to work around nature’s schedule. An easy way of doing that is starting your plants inside. Here is a great article from The Old Farmer's Almanac about growing your plants indoors, from lighting to maintaining space.
Bonfires and Hearthfires
Some find it hard to believe that fire can encourage growth, but nature does it all the time. Forest fires clear away years’ worth of dead brush and leave behind fertilizing ashes that boost new vegetation. We would burn our fields every year when I was growing up to get the grass prepped for the new hay season!
Hedgemade Goods has several great candles and natural soy tealights to light up your life with! So strike up your fireplace, your bonfire, your candles, your torches and your incenses, because it’s time! ALWAYS...always practice fire safety whenever you are working with fire. During this time of social distancing and stay at home orders, some may not have these readily available, so opt for a candle or even a battery powered candle for your celebrations. It is about the intention!
Of course, celebrations are always heightened by the company of family and friends, but due to the current circumstances globally, spending time with your household you live in and time through zoom, facetime and Duo will be perfect for this year's social distancing version of Imbolc!