If you have never heard of this strangely named festival, or know it intimately there’s is so much joy attached to welcoming the end of the bleakness of January and the beginning of Spring. Imbolc marks the mid point between the Winter Solstice (the darkest day) and the Spring Equinox (when the night and day are even). Just marking the shift in light can bring so much joy. The world outside is beginning to show the first signs of Spring with bulbs peeping above ground and scatterings of Snowdrops. It is celebrated on the 1st of February, some begin the celebrations on the sunset of 31st January and other on the 1st to the 2nd of February. Others choose to be more fluid and go with the weather and seasonal shift. A good marker is when the first lambs re born announcing the true arrival of Spring. I love the fluidity approach as a spoonie so that I can pace myself and enjoy celebrations for longer
In Ireland Imbolc is known as (Saint) Brigid’s Day. Brigid is the Pagan Goddess of Spring, fertility, healing, poetry and blacksmiths! She was later adopted by Christians and the day became a saints day. Some people believe that she was the goddess of healing and her two sisters were goddesses of smithing and poetry and they are combined as a Triple Deity (three gods worshipped as one). It is closely flowed by Candlemas/ The Wives’ Feast on the 2nd and to my joy is a gatherbing of women to feast and celebrate the home.
In traditional celebrations people make Brigid’s Crosses or Dolls woven from rushes. These crosses are not Christian and far outdate their use and symbolism. I’ve hugely enjoyed picking rushes and making them in the past. If you fancy a go there is an excellent tutorial here:
As it is the beginning of Spring I have some Spoonie friendly activities to celebrate and welcome in the new season over the next two weeks.`
One of my favourite things, after the evergreens of Yule and Christmas have gone, is to bring more nature indoors. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to force spring bulbs in pots and containers. Bulbs that are suited to this are Amaryllis (some will still be available), Hyaicynths (grape and regular*), Tulips, Daffodils, Iris, Lily of the Valley*, Crocus, Snowdrops and Paper-whites. Some bulbs can be found ready planted in lovely containers in garden centres and supermarkets. Alternatively you can buy them buy them and plant them in your own containers. My home is full of bulbs in purpose made bowls, tea cups and jugs, large jars etc. Pop a few stones in the bottom for drainage and then a layer of soil. Plant the bulb so the top is peeking out. You can cover the surface with moss for extra decoration. Keep it watered and marvel at how quick;y they appear. Once they have flowered you can cut the stem and keep them on the window sill, or outside and keep them for next year. They can be planted outside where they will bloom naturally next year. Or stored and saved once the green dies back and forced again next year. A more in depth tutorial by Sarah Raven can be found here.
Although the Spring bulbs outdoors are beginning to show signs of growth many will not be in flower yet. Whilst the garden is waking up its a fantastic time to begin planning your year ahead. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
- Decide what you want from your garden this year. Do you want it to be somewhere that you can sit and relax in a beautiful surrounding? Do you want your garden to feed you? Do you want your garden to provide cut flowers? Is your garden a wildlife sanctuary? Or like me do you want it to be a mixture?
- Begin saving egg boxes, toilet roll tubes and plastic trays as seed planters
- Take stock of the plants you already have planted. A really useful way of managing these is using the RHS free garden calendar tool by registering for an account here. Identify and save your plants to ‘My Garden’. The tool then provides you with a basic monthly to do list for the year ahead.
- Ask yourself does your garden work for you as a spoonie? I have to reign myself in with plans
- Go through your seeds. Take stock of what seeds you already have and plan how and when to plant them. This is particularly important if you are sowing a vegetable garden. If you have an excess of seeds why not ask friends and family if they want to do a seed swap.
- Take stock, can and repair any garden equipment and raised beds
- if you are feeling creative have a go at drawing or painting a garden plan of your own
The important thing to remember here is not to do it all at once. do one of these tasks at a time. And if they are still big break them down further!
Bake with seeds
Finally a magical and enchanting way to celebrate the Spring goddess within you is to bake with some seeds. Seeds represent knew beginnings. Popular recipes include poppy seeds as the poppy flower symbolises birth and death, and the seeds inspiration and visions (think opium, though I’m only endorsing the regular edible ones here!). Here are three recipes I love:
I hope you enjoy a slow and creative Imbolc. Don’t forget to share your activities with the hashtag #TheresAWolfAtMyDoor