Imbolc Celebrations

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    david poole

    Do you think that the solstices and equinoxes should be spaced exactly between the four fire festivals rather than attached to specific dates as they usually are?


    Imbolc is supposed to be the Celebration of the Time of Year that falls between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.

    I’m not sure about that. The ancient Gaelic calendar(s) didn’t ascribe much, if any, importance to solstices or equinoxes – these seem to have been more important in Germanic, not Celtic, traditions. Imbolc is the beginning of the spring, when the snowdrops and the first signs of life begin to re-appear after the winter months. There’s also some evidence that these ancient months and festivals may have been a lot more fluid in the past, with people relying more on signs from nature rather than fixed dates to determine the “calendar”.

    So I got out a Calculator and divided 365 by 8 and got 45. So if you count the days from Winter Solstice 45 Days, they the date that falls between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox is Feb 5th.

    By old calendar reckoning, i.e. the Julian, the day would actually (now) be the 12th of February, so care should be taken with all of these so-called fixed dates and festivals, for example, Samhain may have been earlier. Apart from that, the trouble is that the solar year is actually 365 days, 5 h, 48 min. and 45.19 sec. long, and it varies slightly, too. In any case, it doesn’t divide nicely and evenly by eight or four! 😀

    I also know of some who prefer to use the lunar calendar, using the first, next or nearest new/full moon to the dates in question in order to mark the festivals, but that is not without some difficulties either.

    Calendars are a bit of a headache. 😀



    Britain switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in September 1752, centuries after the rest of Europe had made the change. This meant that 11 days were dropped out from the calendar to bring us back in line with our European neighbours. There were riots in the streets. As a result, some people still celebrate May Day ‘old style’ on May 11th/12th. Midsummer, Midwinter and the two equinoxes are still set by reference to the position of the Sun and the quarter days fit roughly halfway between them. Roughly because, for a variety of reasons, we ended up with months of varying length and February having an extra day every four years. To avoid too much complication, the quarter days ended up being celebrated on the first days of their respective months, although each celebration properly begins on the night before, so the celebration of Calan Mai begins on the night of April 30th and runs through May Day. Nos Galan Gaeaf is called the ‘Night of Winter Calends’ because most of its celebration focuses on the night of October 31st rather than November 1st, night being more appropriate for celebrating the onset of winter.
    As for celebration this year, I’ve spent the last two years mostly locked down, so I’ll be celebrating Gwyl Forwyn by going across the road to the woods where there’s a grassy bank that’s usually covered in hundreds of Snowdrops at the beginning of February, a wonderful sign of life returning to the Earth after the winter months. When night falls, I’ll light candles and share a celebratory meal with my son and daughter, perhaps raising a glass of mead to toast the return of the Maiden.
    Many blessings,
    Greywolf /|\

    david poole

    Visiting your local woods sounds like a wonderful idea and is something which I do all of the time, I am often visiting woods and this is very good because you get to see so much and it always leads to experiences of one kind or another

    Imbolc means ewe’s milk, it is associated with lambing and so using milk in ritual or drinking milk is an appropriate way to mark this occasion

    Bride or Saint Brigid is associated with Imbolc, this custom I think comes from Ireland where there are still shrines to Saint Brigid to this day. Strangely I don’t think that Lugh or the Dagda or any of the other Tuatha De were ever turned into saints, and yet a goddess was, and Christianity is somewhat opposed to that sort of thing

    Snowdrops have just started coming to my attention recently and I feel that this is actually a very good sign

    Dave TheDruid-3X3

    Awens to All:

    Hot Cross Buns are a Traditional Delicacy of Spring so are made for Imbolc, Spring Equinox as well as Easter.

    Here is a Link to 5 Great Historical Myths & Traditions of Hot Cross Buns:

    Seems they were originally Created by a English Monk Brother Thomas Rodcliffe in 1361 and is to Ward Off Evil Spirits and also to Cement Friendships. Queen Elizabeth I actually decreed that Hot Cross Buns could only be made for Xmas, Easter and for Burials and if you got caught making Hot Cross Buns at any other time, you had to give your Buns to the Poor.

    So I guess it is time to go out and get some Hot Cross Buns to Celebrate the Spring Festivals.



    Hi there,

    I’ve never heard of having hot cross buns other than at Easter, specifically on Good Friday.

    Given that St Brigid’s day – Lá Fhéile Bríde – is February 1st, one Irish tradition would be to weave Brigid’s crosses from rushes or another similar material. There were also a lot of weather predictions made around this time, paradoxically perhaps, good weather on this day was a bad sign for the season to come and vice versa.


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