Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Feast of Brigid & the first day of spring on the Celtic calendar

Although not much is known about the saint for whom it is named, St. Brigid’s cross is a national symbol in Ireland. St. Brigid is said to have been born into the family of a Leinster chieftain, sometime around 450, in the County Louth village of Faughart, near Dundalk.

It is said Brigid refused to enter into an arranged marriage and instead chose to consecrate her life to God. Brigid is credited with the founding of several monastic communities around Ireland, including a large monastery at Kildare. The significance of this community may account for the fact that St. Brigid is known as Brigid of Kildare. Brigid’s communities provided education for young Irish women at a time when the Roman church would not do so.

There is a long list of persons for whom Brigid is said to be patron saint, including babies & brewers, mariners & midwives, poets & scholars.

All around Ireland on the first day of February — the first day of spring on the Celtic calendar — you may find children crafting St. Brigid’s cross out of rushes. Also, you might spy the crosses in transom windows over doorways, beseeching St. Brigid to keep safe those who reside within. My own St. Brigid's crosses are pictured above. The black one is crafted out of petrified turf, and is a souvenir of time spent in County Kildare. The reed one is a little the worse for wear, but hangs in our home, not only as a talisman against harm, but also as a symbol of the kindness of the young woman who crafted it for me at the 2014 January Tradfest site on the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Around Ireland there are a number of sites dedicated to Brigid, but my favourite among these is near the National Stud in County Kildare. Please enjoy the brief video slideshow below of my visit to St. Brigid's Holy Well.



  1. I have Brigids in the family history. Thanks for teaching me about their namesake!

    1. Hello Colleen, thanks very much for your comment. I'm glad the post proved helpful.



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