St. Brigid’s Day – A Celebration of a Celtic Goddess and Saint

St. Brigid’s Day, which marks the beginning of spring in Ireland according to Celtic tradition and occurs on February 1st, is quickly approaching. This year, the celebration of Saint Brigid’s Day will be elevated to the status of a nationally recognized bank holiday in Ireland to honor her. In Ireland, this national holiday marks the first time a woman has been honored with a public holiday in her own right. So who exactly was Saint Brigid? Was she a goddess from the ancient Celts or a holy person from the Christian religion?

A Holy Person in Christianity

St. Brigid of Kildare, according to legend, was born into servitude in Dundalk, Ireland, in the year 451 AD. She became a nun, an abbess, and the founder of various monasteries, the most notable of which was in Kildare, as a result of her assiduous efforts and laser-like focus.

A depiction of Saint Brigid offering protection to the monastery at Kells is considered to be one of the most significant parts of her legacy. She declined an arranged marriage so that she might devote her life to helping others, and as a result, she educated hundreds of women who would have been illiterate otherwise.

The St. Brigid’s Cross

There are several versions of the tale that surrounds the beautiful cross that bears her name. In the version that has become the most well-known, Brigid is said to have woven a cross out of rushes that were carpeting the floor at the bedside of a dying pagan chieftain, who, in some versions of the story, is her father. Her words comforted the dying man, and he was moved to be baptized before passing away in peace as St. Brigid explained the meaning of the cross to him.

St. Brigid’s Day – Lá Fhéile Bríde

On the first of February in the year AD 523, it is stated that Saint Brigid died away in a calm and serene manner. In the years that followed, Irish people have commemorated her and the ancient Imbolc who came before her by constructing and displaying rush crosses to bless their homes each year on this day. This practice dates back to when the festival was first observed. Currently, Saint Brigid is considered to be one of the three patron saints of Ireland, together with Saint Patrick and Saint Colmcille. Her feast day was effectively recognized as a national holiday in 2023 as a result of a campaign that occurred not long ago.

Brigid the Celtic Goddess

Brigid was an ancient Celtic goddess who was associated with poetry, healing, fertility, domestic animals, and the forge. She existed eons before the saint. Goddess Brigid, the strong and well-liked goddess, was the daughter of the Dagda, the monarch of the faraway Tuatha Dé Danann. She was revered by her people.

Imbolc and the Feast of Saint Brigid

The festival of Imbolc is also known as the Feast of Saint Brigid. Imbolc, which occurs around halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, was traditionally celebrated by paying homage to Brigid with feasts and bonfires in the expectation that the upcoming growing season would be prosperous. In old Irish, the phrase “Imbolc” literally translates to “in the belly,” and the holiday’s history is documented in both mythology and medieval writings.

In the Celtic calendar, the feast day of Brigid signified the beginning of spring and the beginning of fresh life. Rush crosses of many shapes and sizes, most often with three arms, and miniature statues of Brigid, also known as Brídeóg, were crafted and hung in homes and stables in order to preserve the health of humans and animals.

The Cross of Saint Brigid is a symbol of Ireland.

The St. Brigid’s cross, along with the shamrock and the harp, is a magnificent emblem of Ireland that can trace its roots back to Celtic mythology. The harp is another sign of Ireland that has its origins in Celtic mythology. The cross is weaved from left to right, following the path of the sun, and is made from rushes or straw that was gathered from the earth on the evening of January 31, which is the eve of Saint Brigid’s Day. In the middle of it is a layered square, and spreading out from there are four arms, each of which is linked at the ends.

Saint Brigid’s Blessing

A traditional Irish blessing for your St. Brigid Cross …

“May the blessing of God and the Trinity be on this cross and where it rests and on everyone who looks at it.”

Where do you put a St.Brigid’s cross?

The Brigid’s Cross is used to safeguard a home and ward off dangers like hunger, fire, and evil.  They are usually hung by the entry doorway and in the rafters of homes to protect the house. It is also said to be a symbol of peace and friendliness, and in the past, it was used to protect animals and encourage cows to produce more milk when it was kept in cowsheds.

When do we make St Brigid’s cross?

On the evening of January 31, which is known as Saint Bridget’s Eve, people used to build a St. Bridget’s cross by weaving rushes or straw together. In order to pay homage to the saint and to ask for her protection over the household and its animals, the crosses were nailed to the walls of homes and, on occasion, of cowsheds and stables as well.

Making a Saint Brigid’s Cross

In Ireland, it is traditional to make a St. Bridget’s Cross. Rushes, also known as Juncus effusus, are used to construct the St. Bridget’s Cross, which is hung over the doors of homes in an effort to summon the assistance of St. Bridget in the prevention of sickness. St. Bridget’s Day is observed annually on February 1st, and the crosses are often crafted in conjunction with this holiday. Rushes were the typical material used in the construction of the St. Bridget’s Cross. These were retrieved from marshes and then hacked into pieces measuring between 8 and 12 inches in length. Rushes might be difficult to come by, but regular drinking straws made of paper or pipe cleaners can serve as an acceptable and even preferable alternative. You may secure the loose ends using rubber bands.

If You Can’t Get Rushes You Will Need

  • 9 paper drinking straws or pipe cleaners
  • 4 small rubber bands

How to Make Your Own Brigid’s Cross

  1. Hold one of the straws vertically. Fold a second straw in half as in the diagram.
  2. Place the first vertical straw in the center of the folded second straw.
  3. Hold the center overlap tightly between the thumb and forefinger.
  4. Turn the two straws held together 90 degrees counterclockwise so that the open ends of the second straw are projecting vertically upwards.
  5. Fold a third straw in half and over both parts of the second straw to lie horizontally from left to right against the first straw. Hold tight.
  6. Holding the center tightly, turn the three staws 90 degrees counterclockwise so that the open ends of the third staw are pointing upwards.
  7. Fold a new straw in half over and across all the staws pointing upwards.
  8. Repeat the process of rotating all the straws 90 degrees counterclockwise, adding a new folded straw each time until all nine straws have been used up to make the cross.
  9. Secure the arms of the cross with elastic bands. Trim the ends to make them all the same length. The St Bridget’s Cross is now ready to hang.

A cross of Saint Brigid necklace to be cherished for all of time.

If you are looking for a St. Brigid’s day gift, try our collection of Brigid’s Cross necklaces and St. Brigid Earrings, and Brigid’s Cross brooch to choose an item that you will always cherish and can wear throughout the year. St. Brigid’s Cross Jewelry is one of the most stunning and enchanted pieces of Irish religious jewelry. It is worn as a strong Irish religious symbol to protect the heart and the house.

Published by The Irish Jewelry Company

We at The Irish Jewelry Company take pride in making the Irish gift giving experience modern and convenient. The Irish Jewelry Company celebrates their Celtic heritage and a love of Ireland through original Irish Jewelry design. Their beautiful Irish jewelry is steeped in Celtic symbolism and rich in Irish tradition.

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