Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Today marks the Pagan celebration of Imbolc, in later Christian times known as Candlemas Day.  The Feast of Bride, as it was originally known, was one of the four fire festivals of the ancient Celts, the other three being Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain.  The transformation of Brigid the Exalted One--daughter of the Tuatha de Danaan and source of oracles--into St. Bridget I will leave to other tale-tellers.  Suffice it to say that the original Brigid, born in the Wolf Month of February, signified the coming of spring, bringing light into a dark world.  Her feast was timed to coincide with lambing season, a sure sign of new life, and Brigid was always associated with livestock as well as with the bringing of fire.  Her totem animals were two magical oxen and a wild boar which were said to give warning if Ireland was in danger.  And in Scotland, Highland wives invoked Brigid at their hearths.

Today, those wanting to honor the spirit of Brigid should spend the day housecleaning (!) and burning any leftover Christmas greenery, which is exactly what I am going to do when I finish this post.  Tonight I will leave the customary ribbon on my porch for a blessing from Brigid as she passes down my road with her oxen, unseen by mortal eyes.  After that, I may prepare some lamb stew and Bride's cake. 

 Bride's Cake

1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raisins - some prefer golden raisins
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder

Mix all the ingredients together, being careful not to overmix. Pour into a greased and floured 9"x9"x2" square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until knife inserted in middle of cake comes out clean.  Cool before serving.


  1. That sounds like one gem of a cake, Miriam, and not too hard to make. A festive treat for a festive day!

  2. Pat, it's super-quick and easy and goes really well with stew. Like maybe your beef stew recipe???

  3. I usually have my Anam Cara Brown Bread with that, but change is always good. I would have thought of it as more of a dessert. Hmm.

  4. I've always found myself particularly drawn to Brid. Could be because I'm a February baby or maybe because she's also known to be particularly fond of poets, smithy's, and healers. Maybe that's why all of us are mesmerized by a bit of the Celt. You think maybe Brid is "nudging" us in that direction? ;-)

  5. Pat, yes, it's more of a desert than it is a brown bread or soda bread type thing. But I've always found it very satisfying with stew, for some reason. I usually throw in a salad, too, or even cole slaw. Maeve, anything that appeals to the poet in me is a sure draw, so I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Brid nudges me that way from time to time.