An Ancient Woman For Modern Times?
For the first time in modern history Ireland will have its first (and only) female patron Saint Day declared a holiday. February 1st, the feast of St. Brigid, has been long celebrated in the Irish countryside.
Now she’s made her way up to Dublin. And rightly so.
Herstory, a campaign for female empowerment and celebration, founded by Melanie Lynch launched a petition to give St. Brigid her own Feast Day (and day off for us!). The campaign, started in 2019, took off and by 2023 the Irish Government cemented February 1st as an official day to commemorate St. Brigid, take pause to highlight the power of the feminine, and celebrate the deep, ancient female roots of the Goddess Divine in Brigid. As Melanie Lynch put it:
If Ireland lights up the world green on St. Patrick’s Day for one man, why can’t we illuminate the world in celebration of women?
St Brigid- The Multi- Tasker in the Ancient World
This was before Instagram, after all.
However the fact that Brigid and her woven cross of reeds have survived reveals how powerful she remains in Irish culture.
Born in Ireland, (unlike the Sasanach St Patrick 😉) in 450 AD, she came to symbolise and embody many gifts : Water, Fire and Poetry. Unusually, fire and water are opposing elements and yet woven together, like the Cros Bríde. Perhaps this reflected the stories of her diplomacy, her ability to avoid war with cunning words.
It’s hard not to wish she were still alive today, isn’t it?
If You Want to Get Something Done, Ask the Busiest Woman You Know
Yet St Brigid wasn’t one to just sit back and talk. She was a woman of action too with many practical miracles attributed to her, not least caring for her own Abbey in Kildare. Her creative solutions to problems might also be why her spirit lives on and why some still hang out a piece of cloth outside the home on the night of February 1st in order for her to bless the home with good health.
Like so many Irish saints, St Brigid echoed ancient Celtic practices to honour the seasons. St Brigid’s Feast Day coincides with Imbolc- Nature reawakening from the long, dark winter.
There’s something deeply sensible in moving with the seasons, again reflecting the common sense of Brigid herself. In contrast to our other saint, the more famous one who is probably on social media, turning rivers green and faces too from a feed of too many St Paddy’s Day pints, Brigid’s Day doesn’t yet carry the Paddywhackery nonsense.
Brigid’s still pure and earthly connection carries some deeper, much needed, wisdom in our modern harried world. Her message is to return to our roots, gather ourselves at pace with the seasonal movements and not with the madness of a media projected world.
Perhaps the contemplative act of weaving a Brigid’s cross and coming in greater contact with nature would do us all some good? And having a celebration in honour of a woman who was a force for creative goodness and PEACE, whose voice, like so many women’s voices, almost got lost…
Luckily Brigid’s story is being told & RTE will be showcasing a series highlighting the role of Irish women to advance the story of Ireland, often behind the scenes, with less talk, more action and more care….
Happy St Brigid’s Day