Rediscover the ancient food magic of the Midwinter Feast of Lights. Known to the Celts as Imbolc or Brigid’s Feast Day, it celebrated the arrival of the sun goddess Brigid (and the first stirrings of spring) with oodles of candles and plenty of magical foods – all of which ensured Brigid’s blessings in the coming year.
In the following posts we share some of our favourite Imbolc events, activities and recipes (all containing more links on Imbolc customs & foods). And stay tuned to this page – there will be a recipe (or two) still to come. We hope you will be inspired to create a little midwinter magic of your own!
A MIDWINTER FEAST OF LIGHT: THE SACRED FOODS OF IMBOLC
Across the world, for thousands of years, our ancestors celebrated the turn of the seasons through sacred feasts and plenty of magic. Which is why once again, Gather is preparing to celebrate one of the most beautiful and ancient “holy-days” of the old world calender – the Midwinter Festival of Lights. Known as Lupercalia to the Romans, Sul-Minerva to the ancient Brits, or Imbolc or Brigid’s Day to the ancient Celts, this “cross quarter day” occurred halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox (somewhere between January 31st to February 4th). It is believed to be dated as far back as the Neolithic when megalithic chambers marked the light of the rising sun on this day….click through to read the rest of this post.
The Celts welcomed the onset of spring in the form of their goddess Brigid (Brigit, Brighid, Bride, Bridget, Bridgit, Bríd) who took form as the maiden of the sun. She revived the landscape from its winter slumber so that the agricultural year could begin. And in a time when winter cupboards began to run thin, the first appearance of her swelling buds and green shoots, were a promise of the return of the season of plenty. In order to celebrate these first stirrings of spring, women created a feast for Brigid, her ceremonial foods were laid out, and a place set for her at the table…click through to read the rest of this post.
It’s that magical time of the year—halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox—when we start to consider the returning light and warmer, softer days. For my ancient ancestors, February was a time of great anticipation for the coming growing season. To ensure bountiful crops, productive livestock and healthy mothers and babes, they practiced fertility and purification rites—many of them featuring milk. Why, the Gaelic festival of Imbolc/Imbolg (Feb 1-4) has milk right in its name…click through to read the rest of this post.
Nothing says Imbolc better that the bright yellows of lemon, butter and egg yolks. So what happens when you infuse a sweet, zesty, creamy, lemon curd with the aromatic herbs of the sun? Glorious food magic is what! Lemon Tassies are old-fashioned dessert tarts filled with easy to make citrusy curd. And while no one is sure where they first originated, the word Tassie is believed to be derived from the old Scottish & French words for small cup. And since France and Scotland were once Celtic lands (from which Jennifer and I both descend) I decided they were perfect to bring to her Imbolc Soirée, where we will once again celebrate with neighbours and friends, the return of Brigid, the Celtic maiden goddess of the sun…click through to read the rest of this post.
According to Bede’s De temporum ratione (The Reckoning of Time), the Anglo Saxon month of February was called Sol-monath, which can be translated to mean “cake month”… or “mud month”. As round cakes and loaves were made to mark the occasion regardless, I feel like we can make a solid case for “cake month”…click through to read the rest of this post.
And be sure to check out Gather’s Imbolc Pinterest Board for more ideas on home celebration!