Happy Saint Brigid’s Day!
Welcome to the day that celebrates Brigid! My fascination with her mythology and history began years ago, which led to my writing the Brigid trilogy, which tell the story of Brigid in each of her forms: Goddess, Druid, and Saint.
February 1st marks the start of spring on the Celtic calendar, also known as the festival of Imbolc. It’s also the Catholic celebration of the Feast of St. Brigid, or Candlemas.
Imbolc is one of the four quarter days on the Celtic calendar, falling halfway between the winter and spring equinoxes. Although the word “imbolc” refers to lactating ewes, Celtic celebrations included lighting fires and candles as a way to welcome the light of spring. In ancient mythology, Brigid is known as the “Fiery Arrow,” goddess of the flame.
In Christian tradition, this day celebrates Saint Brigid. Born into a druid family, she trained to be a druid herself. Later, she converts to Christianity and performs many miracles, such as curing lepers, or hang up her famous blue cloak on a sunbeam.
She became the abbess at Kildare, the Church of the Oak, beginning the tradition of the sacred flame. Legend has it that the flame was originally used by Celts to invoke the ancient Goddess Brigid. When Saint Brigid began her nunnery, she continued the tradition of the flame.
According to tradition, the flame survived until the 16th century, when the Catholic faith was suppressed by Protestant rule. In 1993, the flame was re-lit at Kildare, now tended by the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare.