As the first signs of spring tentatively emerge and the cold grasp of winter begins to loosen, many around the world turn their attention to a festival of light and renewal: Imbolc, also known as St. Brigid’s DayCelebrated on February 1st, this day marks not only the beginning of spring in the Celtic calendar but also honors one of Ireland’s most beloved saints. In this exploration, we delve into the origins of Imbolc and St. Brigid’s Day, the significance of St. Brigid, the traditions that define this celebration, and a modern expression of this ancient festival through the beautiful St. Brigid’s cross jewelry from The Irish Jewelry Company.

Origins of Imbolc and St. Brigid’s Day

Imbolc, an ancient festival with roots in pagan traditions, signifies the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. In the Celtic tradition, it was a time to welcome the return of the sun and the onset of warmer days. The word “Imbolc” itself is derived from Old Irish, meaning “in the belly,” a reference to the pregnancy of ewes, signaling the beginning of the lambing season and thus new life.

Parallel to this, St. Brigid’s Day celebrates one of Ireland’s patron saints, St. Brigid of Kildare. Born in the 5th century, St. Brigid is a fascinating figure, often thought to be a Christianization of an earlier pagan goddess also named Brigid, who was associated with fire, poetry, and healing. This intertwining of pagan and Christian traditions is a hallmark of St. Brigid’s Day.

The Story of St. Brigid

St. Brigid of Kildare, born in the 5th century, is a figure shrouded in a blend of history and myth. Her story begins as a druid’s daughter, born into a time of transition from pagan to Christian Ireland. Possessing a compassionate heart and a strong will, young Brigid quickly became known for her generous spirit and miracles.

Legend has it that she once gave away her mother’s entire store of butter, only for it to be miraculously replenished. This act, among others, established her reputation as a protector of the poor and a worker of wonders. Her life took a decisive turn when she decided to devote herself to the Christian faith, founding a monastery in Kildare and becoming a beacon of light and learning in early Christian Ireland.

St. Brigid is often regarded as Ireland’s female patron saint, standing alongside the likes of St. Patrick. She is revered for her compassionate nature and her connection to both Christian and pre-Christian traditions.

Why Celebrate St. Brigid’s Day?

St. Brigid’s Day is a celebration of renewal, purity, and the return of light. For Christians, it’s a time to honor St. Brigid’s contribution to early Christianity in Ireland and her compassionate work, especially towards the poor. For those who follow the older Celtic traditions, it’s a celebration of the rebirth of the earth and the end of winter.

St. Brigid: The Patron Saint of Many

Saint Brigid is known as the patron saint of various causes – including babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle farmers, children whose parents are not married, children with abusive fathers, children born into abusive unions, dairymaids, dairy workers, Florida, fugitives, infants, Ireland, Leinster, mariners, midwives, milkmaids, nuns, poets, the poor, poultry farmers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, travelers, and watermen.

This wide array of patronages reflects her multifaceted legacy and the immense impact she had on different aspects of society and daily life in early Christian Ireland.

Is St. Brigid’s Day a Holiday in Ireland?

While not a public holiday, St. Brigid’s Day holds a special place in the hearts of the Irish people. It’s a day of cultural significance, marked by various events and activities, especially in Kildare, where St. Brigid founded a monastery. Schools often teach children about the saint and her legacy, and communities come together for special masses and gatherings.

Traditions of St. Brigid’s Day

One of the most enduring traditions of St. Brigid’s Day is the crafting of the St. Brigid’s Cross. Made from rushes or straw, this distinctive cross is said to protect homes from harm. It’s a tradition steeped in symbolism, with the cross’s shape representing the sun wheel and the new growth of spring.

Another tradition involves the ‘Biddy’s‘ – groups of people who visit houses in their community, often in costume, carrying a doll-like figure representing St. Brigid. This custom, known as ‘Biddying,’ is a form of celebration and a request for blessings.

St. Brigid’s Cross Jewelry: A Modern Tribute

In contemporary times, the legacy of St. Brigid and the celebration of Imbolc have found new expressions. One such example is the beautiful St. Brigid’s cross jewelry crafted by The Irish Jewelry Company. These pieces, which range from St. Brigid Cross necklaces to earrings, encapsulate the essence of St. Brigid’s Day, blending ancient symbolism with modern style. They serve as a reminder of Ireland’s rich heritage and the enduring legacy of one of its most important saints.


Imbolc and St. Brigid’s Day intertwine ancient pagan traditions with Christian beliefs, creating a unique celebration that marks the beginning of spring and honors a saint who has become a symbol of charity, compassion, and strength. From the crafting of traditional St. Brigid crosses to modern interpretations in jewelry, these celebrations continue to evolve, keeping the spirit of St. Brigid alive for generations to come. As the days grow longer and the earth reawakens, we’re reminded of the enduring power of renewal, hope, and the unifying force of cultural heritage.