Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day or St. Brigid's Day

Like so many of our holidays, Groundhog Day evolved from pagan ritual.  It hearkens from Ireland and was originally known as St. Brigid's Day or Imbolc, a Celtic fertility goddess. The holiday was most frequently celebrated on February 1st or 2nd which falls midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.

Gaelic Ireland first observed St. Brigid's Day during the Middle Ages. Actually, the word "imbolc" in Old Gaelic means "in the belly" and refers to the pregnant ewes being raised  by what was then principally an agrarian society.

Because of this connection to fertility, the village maidens would make an offering to St. Brigid/Imbolc on the holiday's eve in the form of a doll made from corn.

Fostering a good relationship with St.Brigid/Imbolc was critical as she was associated with that part of the year, Spring, which heralded in extended sunlight.

The day, too, is traditionally one of weather prognostication. Historically, people would wait and watch to see if snakes or badgers emerged from their winter dens, hence our tradition with groundhogs.  Weather, of course, played a critical role in the villager's  lives as it meant the difference between life and death for them.

Fire and purification are both associated with Imbolc/St. Brigid.. Because she is both a saint and a goddess ( poetry and healing and smith craft) she is associated with holy wells, sacred flames and healing.  Thus, the lighting of candles and fire at this time of year represent the return of warmth and of the Sun.

1 comment:

  1. Great post just I always wondered about GHD! Hope you are well.