When I still lived in Massachusetts, I commuted to Boston every day on the Red Line. Every winter I would shiver on the station platform waiting for a train. Before I could hear one coming, a tendril of light would always shine against the wall of the tunnel before the incoming train would screech and turn the corner. That little light was always the sign that the wait was over.
That’s essentially what Imbolc celebrates, the hints of spring emerging in the second half of winter that tell us the wait for warm weather will be over soon. Originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid, it was later celebrated as a christianized festival for Saint Brigid.
The Goddess Brigid was known for having fiery red hair and a flaming sword, and was said to visit homes on the eve of the holiday. To earn her blessing, people would leave her offerings by making a bed for her and leaving out food and drink. Clothing would be left out for her to bless.
Starting in 2023, Imbolc will be a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland. Here are a few ways to celebrate:
- Pre-spring cleaning. Before you deep clean your home with the windows open the first week of spring, it might help to get any unnecessary clutter out of the way first. The mid point of any season is a good time to take stock of what seasonal items aren’t getting any use, and either toss or donate them.
- Make a simmer pot. If you’ve never tried one, it’s a pot filled with water, fruit, herbs, and spices that is left to simmer on the stove for a few hours. Simmer pots are great way to add a little moisture to dry air and smells great. An easy recipe uses two sliced lemons, a bunch of rosemary, and a tablespoon of vanilla extract. Don’t forget to replenish the water!
- Germinate seeds. Whether you are planning a whole tea garden or just want a few herbs on your kitchen window sill, now is the perfect time to start germinating plants indoors ahead of warmer weather.
- Look for signs of spring. This will largely depend on where you live, but a few universal ones are the sun setting a little later each day, tree buds, bumble bees, and birds singing in the morning.