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Since the ancient times, Gaelic Ireland has been celebrating Imbolc (Imbolg) to mark the beginning of spring around the month of February. It falls in between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. When Ireland was Christianized, they coincided the pagan sabbat with the Feast Day of Saint Brigid.
See the fact file below for more information on the Imbolc or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Imbolc worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ETYMOLOGY AND HISTORY
- Imbolc, pronounced “im-bulk” or “em-bowlk”, is one of the major Irish sabbats or holidays along with Beltane, Samhain, and Lughnasadh. Pagans and other pagan-influenced religions celebrate this event to highlight the change of season between solstices and equinoxes.
- For Wiccans, Imbolc originated from Irish mythology and literally means ‘in the belly” in reference to the gestation of ewes.
- The earliest accounts of Imbolc can be traced back to a 10th century Irish poem related to the holiday of ewe’s milk which symbolized purification.
- Traditionally, this pagan holiday is celebrated on the first day of spring aligned with the breeding cycle of sheep and the start of the lactation period, thus implying the idea of rebirth.
- During the pre-Christian times, Imbolc was observed the night before February 1. It was a festival honoring the Celtic goddess Brigid who was believed to look over fertility, crafts, prophesy, and poetry. According to myths, Brigid was born with fire on her head and was the one who drank the milk of a mystical cow.
- Christianized Ireland then adopted St. Brigid, the same name as the goddess, as the patron saint of Irish nuns, dairy amids, newborns, midwives, and cattle.
- Aside from ancient Celts, early Egyptians, Babylonians, and other groups celebrate their own Cross Quarter Day.
TRADITIONS, RITUALS, AND PRACTICES
- As a symbol of ending winter and opening of spring, Pagans use fire and light in rituals to seek the lengthening of the day.
- During this day, celebrants often make Brigid’s Cross a sign of goodwill and peace. It is usually hung on the doors of houses as it is believed to ward off evil. It is believed that Brigid’s Cross was inspired by the Pagan symbol of sun wheel which consisted of a centerpiece with four dials.
- Also a symbol of Imbolc is a Brideog or Brigid straw doll which represents fertility and abundance. A traditional brideog is made of corn husks, rushes, and reeves to look like an effigy of the Brigid doll. It is usually dressed in white cloth and decorated with stones, flowers, and ribbons.
- Communal rituals of bonfires were also practiced with a High Priest to do the invocation. Each participant held a cup of milk, a piece of cake, and an unlit candle to give grace to Brigid. The High Priest lit the candle and passed it along to the participants in the circle along with the cup of milk and piece of cake.
- Other rituals included the Brat Bride in which women traditionally took a cloth and lay it on a bush until the next day. They believed that goddess Brigid blessed the cloth as she passed by from one place to another.
- During Imbolc, foods that symbolize the sun, including pancakes, cakes, and crepes are usually served. Moreover, braided breads are baked to give respect to Brigid as the goddess of home and fertility.
- Imbolc is also the time for spring cleaning in which homes are decluttered to create space for the goddess.
- Modern Wiccans celebrate Imbolc in relation to worshipping the goddess Brigid, while many, especially Christians, intertwine the celebration with St. Brigid’s Day.
- In celebration of the return of light, Candlemas is observed by Christians every February 2. Also on this day, Americans usually celebrate Groundhog Day for season predictions. Some assume that Groundhog Day celebration is a modern offshoot of Imbolc, but the two have no relation to one another.
- The celebration of Imbolc does not only honor goddess Brigid, but other deities as well, including Aengus Og, the god of love, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, Eros, the fertility deity, Hestia, the goddess of Hearth, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, Artemis, the goddess of hunting, and Gaia, the Great Mother of all.
- Animals associated with Imbolc include sheep, deer, badgers, groundhogs, and lambs. Some mythical beasts like the phoenix, dragons, and firebirds are also linked with Imbolc.
- In some places, celebrants do house-to-house singing of Brigid.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Imbolc across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Imbolc worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Imbolc. Since the ancient times, Gaelic Ireland has been celebrating Imbolc (Imbolg) to mark the beginning of spring around the month of February. It falls in between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. When Ireland was Christianized, they coincided the pagan sabbat with the Feast Day of Saint Brigid.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Imbolc Facts
- Seasonal Festivals
- Brigid or Brigid?
- Wheel of the Year
- Imbolc Symbols
- Imbolc Terms
- Sabbats of the Year
- Rituals and Meanings
- St. Brigid’s Day
- Goddess of Poetry
- Fire and Milk
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Link will appear as Imbolc Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 3, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.