Imbolc From Ancient Times To The Present


​At the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, the inner chamber is aligned with the rising sun on the dates of Imbolc and Samhain.

Photo by Paul Stevenson - From the Marsden Imbolc festival.   Imbolc is a pagan festival symbolising the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Here, a representation of Jack frost is driven into exile by the green man. Lots of fire representing the return of the sun. CC BY 2.0
Photo by Paul Stevenson – From the Marsden Imbolc festival.   Imbolc is a pagan festival symbolising the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Here, a representation of Jack frost is driven into exile by the green man. Lots of fire representing the return of the sun. CC BY 2.0

Imbolc is mentioned in some of the most early Irish writings and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. It was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brighid and it is still observed today as such by Wiccans and Celtic based Pagans throughout the world today in various forms. For those following the Celtic method of time keeping in which nightfall marks the beginning of the next day,  this holiday is usually celebrated beginning at sundown on February 1 and continuing through the day of February 2.


Brighid’s crosses are made in honor of her and dolls, called Brídeógs, are sometimes paraded from house-to-house. Brigid is believed to visit the homes of those who worship her at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people might make a bed for her and leave something to eat and drink. Also, some folks leave items of clothing or household items outside for her to bless. Brigid may also be invoked to protect homes, pets and, for those living in the country, livestock. In Ireland and other places, special feasts are held, sacred wells are visited and it is also a good time for divination.

If you would like to make your own Brigid’s Cross they are fairly simple and easy to make with the right materials. If you have access to gather fresh green reeds or straw these work best. We’ve even made them with the kids out of multi-colored pipe cleaners as craft projects. The more flexible the material you’re using the better because you have to bend each piece in half so dry reeds will break on you. There are several good tutorials online you may use to learn how, including this one:


One Reply to “Imbolc From Ancient Times To The Present”

  1. I’ve just finished writing a novel set in Britain at the time of the Romans. Imbolc festivities appear in that. My research said that, in those times, Imbolc was said to begin at the birth of the first new lambs.
    Of course, in our urbanised culture, we don’t know when this is, so I suppose we would need a fixed date. But I like the idea of people still celebrating these ancient festivals.

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