Happy Imbolc everyone. Also known as Candlemas or Oimelc, this day marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. In ancient Celtic times the fire goddess Brigid was honoured on this day. She was the goddess of the home and hearth, of fire, fertility, childbirth, healing, poetry and smith-craft. She was honoured with bonfires and “Brigid Crosses.”
Winter is over now and the first signs of spring are appearing in nature – buds are beginning to appear on trees, animals are waking up from hibernation and spring flowers like snowdrops and daffodils are beginning to bloom. The day is also known as Oimelc which is Gaelic for “ewe’s milk.” The ewe’s are pregnant now and will be having lambs soon. They are also producing milk, which in ancient times, when food was hard to come by in winter, offered people a lifeline. The sun is getting stronger now and the days are noticeably longer. It is time to celebrate the awakening and rebirth of the earth, as well as new beginnings in our own lives.
It is traditional to celebrate this festival by doing a spring clean of the home (a time of purification), eating spicy or dairy foods and placing candles in all the windows of the home to represent the growing strength of the sun. I like to go for a walk on this day to search for the first signs of spring – especially snowdrops. Imbolc is also a time to take up a new craft, and/or make candles for the coming year.
As a vegan, I obviously cannot eat the traditional dairy foods at this time so I will be making a spicy lentil shepherds pie. Just as in nature at this time, there are dormant seeds buried deep and waiting to sprout, so the pie contains a lentil and vegetable base under a layer of beautiful white potatoes. I am using seasonal foods including potatoes, onions, kale, carrots & leeks. The orange of the carrots represents the returning sunlight, while the spices represent fire. Potatoes are also seen as a food sacred to Brigid. This warm wintery dish is perfect for this time. And it will go very well with a Banana, Coconut and Soya Milk smoothie which I shall have with it to toast Mother Nature.
Have a good Imbolc everyone.