Hello, Friend! Nannie here!
At this time of year, it is so fun to feel hints of Spring in the air and know that St. Patrick’s Day is not far off. It’s just so nice to feel the “changin’s” as each season ends and a new one begins, but especially when Winter eases into spring.When my six children were growing up, anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day brought such fun as sometimes-very-severe-winter-weather- days were drawing to a close!
According to irishcentral.com, “There are eight sacred days in Ireland, the times when the old Celtic world stopped to celebrate. Christianity adapted many of their feast days to match.” Those first of those two “sacred days”, according to this irishcentral.com article, “From Bealtaine to Samhain – celebrate Ireland’s sacred Celtic holidays,” by Molly Muldoon, was St. Brigid’s Day which marked the beginning of Spring on February 1st. Of course, the second is St. Patrick’s Day, which is also “considered the middle of the Spring season and is also referred to as the Vernal Equinox.” Even as I write I can hear the bird sounds outside and this morning, I saw at least half a dozen robin red-breasts hopping around getting nest-stuff!
The BBC website tells us that the start of Spring is called “Imbolg/Imbolc/Óimelc. “The ‘experts’ are not sure…about the origin of of the name Imbolg, but they believe it is connected to an ancient word for milk…the beautiful little crosses made from reeds which are called St. Brigid’s Crosses are usually made on St. Brigid’s Day and it is believed that they will protect the inhabitants of the house for a year if they are hung over the doors.
One of the more often heard stories about St. Patrick occurred at this time of year at the Hill of Tara. According to mythicalireland.com, “The Hill of Tara, known as Temair in gaeilge, was once the ancient seat of power in Ireland – 142 kings are said to have reigned there in prehistoric and historic times.
Hill of Tara
Statue of St. Patrick at the Hill of Tara
In ancient Irish religion and mythology Temair was the sacred place of dwelling for the gods, and was the entrance to the otherworld. Saint Patrick is said to have come to Tara to confront the ancient religion of the pagans at its most powerful site. One interpretation of the name Tara says that it means a ‘place of great prospect’ and indeed on a clear day it is claimed that features in half the counties of Ireland can be seen from atop Tara. In the distance to the northwest can be seen the brilliant white quartz front of Newgrange and further north lies the Hill of Slane, where according to legend St. Patrick lit his pascal fire (to celebrate Easter) prior to his visit to Tara in 433 A.D. The Catholic encyclopedia at newadvent.org tells us this event took place on Easter Sunday…March 26, 433 A.D.
An article at irishtimes.com, “Into the light – An Irishman’s Diary on the glories of spring,” by Pól Ó Muirí, comments on spring’s beginning with St. Brigid’s Day and makes a point of saying that we will definitely have “more light, not sunshine necessarily, certainly not heat, but a little more light.” Pól tells us about a “wonderful saying in Ireland: ‘There’s a bit of a stretch in the evenings’…that bit more light in your daily routine.”
In Post 91, we spoke of the Trias Thaumaturga (book about the three wonder-working saints of Ireland…Patrick, Brigid and Columba*) (catholic.org)
Richard Killeen in his In Ireland – Land, People, and History, tells us that “the island of Ireland was overwhelmingly Christian in its allegiance,” and that it is “to Patrick that we return in this regard…here was a definite, living breathing man of whose existence we can be certain…” Mr. Killeen calls St. Brigid ‘Mary of the Irish,’ and calls St. Columba (Colm Cille)‘the most celebrated of the early abbots.
Though it isn’t until June 9 that we celebrate the Feast of St. Columba, we have gotten a good start in Spring with February 1 bringing us the Feast of St. Brigid , and March 17 bringing us the Feast of St. Patrick!
Happy Spring! God bless you and thank you for visiting Finney and me!