St. Brigid’s Day- The First of Spring.

Thank you for the enthusiastic comments on my post about the life-changing power of probiotics. I’m delighted that so many of you share my fascination with the microbiome. Prepare to hear MUCH more on this subject as I am obsessed and determined to learn everything I can. I hope that you might join me .

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Today is my day for new beginnings.

The Spring equinox falls this year on March 20th, at 16.15 if you want to be precise, but in Sultanabunland, of which I am Queen, today is the first of Spring.

I grew up a stone’s throw from St. Brigid’s Well in Co. Kildare. Her feast day, February 1st, was not only a holy day of obligation, and a day off school, but also the accepted first day of Spring. I wrote a brief history of St. Brigid, along with a tutorial on making a St. Brigid’s cross in this post.


The girls, I hope, will make a cross in school today. I, in the mean time, have unintentionally made an edible version. This, weirdly, made me smile inside.

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It smells of Spring today, even though it’s much colder than last week. There’s a sense of awakening. I’m convinced that if I put a stethoscope to the earth I might hear a surge of movement, a trembling, like an oncoming wave.

Judi Dench: My Passion For Trees. ‘Ah, it’s riveting.’There is a wonderful article here about Judi Dench and her love of trees. It’s well worth a read.

There can be no doubt about it, the garden, with or without permission from the astronomers, thinks it’s Spring.


We have the sweetest, rosiest buds on our young lime tree (Tillia cordata, not actually the trees that make limes at all). We planted this especially for our visiting bumblebees as it is said to be one of their favourites.IMG_1438

Our little Magnolia stellata is just getting her gladrags on. It’s as though she is wrapped in her fluffy dressing gown waiting for the moment when she will cast it aside to reveal the glamour beneath.IMG_1439 (2)

The Japanese quince (Chaenomeles) is producing the daintiest blossoms you ever saw. They almost look fake. IMG_1436

Pulmonaria is off the starting blocks. You’ll hear me squeal when the first bee turns up.IMG_1426

Oh, and I have, at last, what could almost be classed a crowd, a host of golden daffodils. While I watch them toss their heads in sprightly dance, I send my love and thanks again to my distant friend who once left a sack of bulbs on my porch. IMG_1431 (2)

Last but not least, a single Anenome coronaria, St. Brigid’s flower, who never fails to show up on the day. Ah yes, the greenfly are definitely awake. Do they ever sleep?IMG_1422

One last thing: I read and enjoyed an unusual book last year by first time author Rachel Hargreaves called Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves. Rachel got in touch to ask if I might re-post my review to coincide with the paperback release. It’s always a thrill for me to hear from authors whose books I have recommended so this is absolutely my pleasure. You may read my review here.

Lá fhéile Bride shona daoibh,


How To Make St. Brigid’s Cross.

To-day, for balance, I bring you a post which is discreet and under-emotional 🙂

February 1st, Imbolc, is the first day of Spring. Oh yes, it is and I will brook no argument. My St. Brigid’s anenomes (Anenome coronaria) have raised their pretty heads right on schedule. It amazes me, year after year, how these little beauties herald Spring.


February 1st is also St. Brigid’s Day.

St. Brigid, born a pagan (451AD) and named for a pagan Goddess, took to religion with all the zeal of a convert. She built convents and monasteries and wielded the authority of a bishop. When it comes to Irish saints, St. Brigid ranks second only to St. Patrick. She was said to have the power to change the weather, to multiply butter and milk as required and was known for the quality of her home-brewed ale. All in all, St. Brigid was a mighty woman.

If you went to school in Co. Kildare in the 1970s, as I did, St. Brigid also had the power to grant you a day off school on her feast day. I’m strangely sentimental about it. I’ve mostly reverted to pagan myself but it feels right that this is a day to stop and breathe, look up at the slightly brighter sky and be glad.

Middle Girl thought you might like to watch as she makes a St. Brigid’s cross. Traditionally, the cross is made from blessed reeds but I imagine paper straws would work well enough.


Fold one reed in half and fold it around the centre point of another reed.


Turn a quarter turn anti-clockwise so that the reed you just added points right.


Fold the next reed around the one pointing right.


Turn anti-clockwise so that, again, the reed you just added points right.


Repeat. Add a reed, quarter-turn, add a reed…



That’s it. Keep going until you feel it looks right. Middle Girl claims that fourteen or fifteen reeds are enough.

I think that garden string would be nice for securing the ends but Middle Girl insists that loom bands are the business. That’s progress for you. IMG_9200

If you happen to have a thatched roof you should secure this to your rafters. No? Me neither. I’ve pinned mine to the kitchen dresser. It should protect your home from all harm, but particularly fire, for a year until you replace it with a new one next St. Brigid’s Day.

I’m not sure what I believe in any more but symbols like this one still carry some weight. This, to me, is a symbol of childhood, school days, faith in the unexplained and new beginnings.

Lá féile Bríde shona daoibh.

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