Celebrating the First Signs of Spring

Disclaimer – I am by no means an expert. I have read lots of books and lots of articles online, watched lots of YouTube channels and follow lots of Instagram pages. This is what I’ve garnered from that research. There are many different takes on many different aspects of the ancient ways. This is mine. I am just sharing what I do.


Imbolc is the first of the four seasonal fire festivals (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, Samhain) of the ancient Celtic people of Great Britain. It was first referenced thousands of years ago and has been referenced many times in ancient Irish literature. Some of the megalithic monuments still found in the UK align with the sunrise for Imbolc and Samhain. This festival is halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The festival is the celebration of the beginning of spring and the lambing season.

After a long winter when the stored meat and vegetables were all but gone, the sheep, being pregnant would have milk. It was important to the farmers that the lambs be born first before the calves because the lambs could survive on the sparse vegetation. It was not only a time to celebrate for the milk but the first signs of the sun returning. The festival paid close attention to the weather as well. They believed the Cailleach, a divine old woman associated with the weather, gathered her firewood for the remaining winter. If the weather is cloudy the winter will soon be over so she doesn’t need to gather wood and stayed inside. If the weather is sunny she is out gathering more wood for the longer winter. The same folklore was told about her associated animal the badger. This custom was brought over with immigrants and adapted to the American groundhog.

It’s not clear what exactly Imbolc means but most assume it’s from the old Irish Imbolc meaning in the belly.

Brigid was a triple goddess and a member of the Tuatha De’ Danann and the daughter of the Dagda and wife of Bres. She is the goddess of the hearth and smith craft, poetry, medicine, arts, livestock, sacred wells, serpents, fertility, the light half of the year and early spring.


Plants and Herbs |
Pine – longevity and good fortune
Cedar – healing, cleansing, protection and strength
Cinnamon – protectin, abundance, healint and attraction
Cloves – banishing evil, clarity, protectin, love and money
Bay – prophectic dreaming, wards off negative energy and psychic ability

Foods | that would have been available in early spring, dairy from the sheep, lamb, seeds stored from the fall harvest, foods that had been dried to preserve it, and vegetables that could be grown in early spring or could be stored all winter.
Dairy – milk, butter, cream, fresh cheeses
Dried Foods – dried fruits, oatmeal, soda bread
Potatoes – colcannon

Old Customs

Brigid dolls were made from corn husks and people made beds for Brigid hoping she would stop and rest at their house on her journey. As the goddess of the hearth families would smooth over the ashes in the hearth and look in the morning to see if there were symbols or signs that Brigid had visited.

Brigid’s crosses are rushes woven into a four-armed cross and hung over doors, windows and stables to welcome Brigid and for protection against fire, lighting, illness and evil spirits. They are usually left until the next Imbolc. Here’s a link to a YouTube channel on how to make one. It was a little tricky but once you get started it goes pretty quickly. I used sheaf’s of wheat that I got from a craft store. But next time I’m going to try to gather something naturally. I think pine needles would work. Here’s a picture of the one I made last year. It was pretty small.

New Customs

Ideas for meals | scones or soda bread with dried fruits, colcannon, root vegetables, seeds added to baked goods or salads, and anything made with milk like ricotta cheese, yogurt, whipped cream, or butter.

Ideas for crafts | making candles, or fresh churned butter, bird feeders made from oranges, peanut butter and bird seed

Ideas for celebrating | enjoy a bonfire or light a bunch of candles, throw coins in a local pond or fountain, spring cleaning, set goals and intentions for the year

To be sure to have intention with what I was doing I lit a candle in a bowl of flowers as a nod to a body of water and cleansed the kitchen with incense.

I made a salad with roasted beets, oranges, sheep’s milk feta cheese, spring peas, green onion, and avocado. I wanted to bake fresh bread but baking bread is not my thing. The kneading the waiting. Yeah not my thing. So I took a tube of Pillsbury French bread, cut it lengthwise into 3 and braided it. Oiled a sheet pan with olive oil then the dough and sprinkled it with coarse salt and pepper. Baked according to the package. I made fresh herb butter to go with it.

That morning I made myself a cup of Earl Gray tea my daughter-in-law brought me from Scotland with honey, lit a candle I had made with lavender and daisies from my yard and enjoyed the tea from my porch. It just took a few minutes to make that morning a little special.

I brought the little bouquet and a candle to the office to remind me what day it was and to help focus on the season.