Imbolc, pronounced “im-olk”, means “in the belly” in Old Irish. This refers to the ewes preparing to give birth to lambs, and the first signs of spring taking root. The sabbat is one of four principal festivals through the solar year, and falls between Yule (Winter Solstice) and Ostara (Spring Equinox).
Held on November 2nd, this sabbat carries influences into the whole Groundhog celebration. The belief that the Cailleach, a Gaellic goddess, gathers wood tells her intention of lengthening the winter season. If the weather is good on November 2nd, she is out gathering her wood. If the weather is poor, she remains underground and spring will arrive early.
This is also known as Brigid’s Day, the goddess of smithcraft and that of the healing and poetry. Some traditions include the making the Brigit’s Bed, with a doll made from corn husks, or setting hearthfires and performing divination for planting.
I’ve celebrated this day as one of creativity and growth, or rather the early stirrings (the spark) of creativity. Its the very beginning of spring, where the earth prepares for the warmer months. This becomes a time for contemplation on what should be planted for my crops (goals for the coming year), and how my crop should be cared for.
We’ll be actually planting something. My son wants flowers or vegetables, so we’ll prepare the seeds at this time and start them indoors before transplanting later outside.
Foods of this day include milk products such as cheese, butter, and cream. Some recipes you can enjoy are scones, soda bread, cream soups, and of course meals with lamb. (See links for recipes) I personally can’t bring myself to eat lamb, but enjoy the soup and stews of the holiday. Traditional Irish foods also go well with this holiday such as bannock or cooked cabbage.
Imbolc Crafts– Includes fire starters, corn doll, wands, and Brigid’s Cross.
Imbolc crafts at Cauldronliving– includes lots of craft ideas and traditions.
Feasting at Imbolc– Lots of recipes here.