Celtic Traditions: Imbolc

Our Scottish ancestry is rich in Celtic traditions

The Celts follow an Earth based seasonal wheel. The Celtic year is divided into two halves, the dark beginning with Samhain and the light beginning with Beltane. In between these are Imbolc and Lughnasadh/Lammas. These key points of the Celtic year were recognized as doorways, when the veil between the worlds are thinnest.

These quarters are further divided by the solstices and equinoxes:  Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. These were referred to as the Albans.

We’re all familiar with the solstices as they are noted as the longest (summer) and shortest (winter) days of the year. The word is derived from the Latin sol meaning sun and sistere meaning to stand still.

Equinoxes also occur twice a year, when day and night are equal lengths. In fact, the word is derived from the Latin aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night.

imbolc_1688967_5d6f2d66Today is Imbolc (pronounced IM-bulk, or EE-mulk in Scotland)

Imbolc, meaning ewes’ milk, is a cross quarter day between Yule and Ostara falling between February 2nd and February 7th. This is a celebration of the first signs of spring or “the return of light.”

Just like New Year’s where we have the image of Father Time being replaced by Baby New Year, at Imbolc we have the Crone turning things over to the Maiden.

This is also the day for celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid (pronounced BREED). She is a triple Goddess and we honor her in all her aspects.  She is light and regeneration and often candles are lit in her honor, similar to Candlemas. Put food like cake or buttered bread, and milk outside your door for Brigid and her cow who will walk through the neighborhood tonight and will appreciate your offering.

Here is the ideal time for you to reflect, past or future, and a chance to state your intentions.

Decorate your home with corn dolly (mothers), besom (twig broom), and spring flowers. Scents to include are rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, and cinnamon.

Balsamic Vinegar Chicken with Almonds and Raisins recipe:

Cut 2 red bell peppers and 2 green bell peppers into 2-inch strips and sauté for 8 minutes in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add 1/3 cup of raisins, sauté 1 minute, Add ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup of toasted slivered almonds. Set aside and keep warm.

Flatten skinless, boneless chicken breasts (6) one at a time between heavy-duty plastic wrap to ¼-inch thickness.

In a shallow dish, combine 6 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs and 6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. In another shallow dish place ½ cup flour. In yet another shallow dish 3 blended egg whites. Dredge each chicken piece in flour, then egg whites, then breadcrumb mixture.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes each side until done. Remove from heat. Place the chicken and bell pepper mixture on a serving platter, set aside, and keep warm.

Add 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 4 tablespoons of water to skillet. Stir to loosen browned bits. Spoon over chicken and bell pepper mixture. Great served over rice or mashed potatoes.


Some activities:

  • Place a candle in your window at sundown, February 1st, Candlemas and allow it to burn till sunrise. (Traditionally, you’d place a candle in every window of your house.)
  • Have a candle making party.
  • If you missed setting goals for the year a few weeks ago, now is the time to do it.
  • With the first signs of spring upon us, now is a good time to get started on that spring cleaning.
  • Create a Brigid Cross, here’s a How-To video:

Sherri Siggy


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