Feb 2, 2011

Celtic Festival of Imbolc

The season of Imbolc begins Feb. 1 with St. Brigid's Day.
Yes, I know today is Groundhog Day. Both are associated with the coming of spring.

From The Celtic Year, A Celebration of Celtic Christian Saints, Sites, and Festivals by Shirley Toulson.

"It is a solemn and joyful time: the ending of the darkness as the seed of light which was planted at the solstice in the womb-like depths of such carefully constructed passage graves as New Grange, gradually pushes its way into the air. The weather in these islands may often be more cold and threatening now than ever it was at mid-winter, so that the survival of the new-born lambs is a great marvel, but even if there is not much warmth in the sun, the hours of daylight increase."

That is the best and most poetic description of what Imbolc is that I have found. If you are not familiar with the Celtic seasons, I blogged about it here.

For the ancient people the seasons were extremely important. They had to know when to plant and when to reap and when to plan for a long winter. They were extremely tuned to the sun and moon, and they were keenly aware of when the days grew longer. I wonder how many people today equate the coming of spring with the amount of daylight. We think about snow and cold and don't think spring is truly on its way until these things have passed. Why else do we consult the groundhog? (Which is an ancient tradition, likely Celtic, but that's another story.)

How different would our attitudes be if we looked to the sun (or any other sign from nature) and gave thanks that yes, the seasons are changing, despite what the thermometer says? I write this at a time when a large part of the US is in the middle of a huge winter storm, so I hope you all will find this a little bit encouraging! :)

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