Imbolc, celebrated around February 1st, is the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is a time of transition, symbolizing the awakening of the earth as it emerges from the dormancy of winter and prepares for the arrival of spring. The name “Imbolc” is believed to derive from the Old Irish word “Oimelc,” which means “ewe’s milk.” This reflects the time when our ancestors would celebrate that the ewes would begin to lactate as they prepare to give birth to lambs.
In our community rituals we always like to break bread together and so we create a seasonal potluck meal. The focus lies on using fresh, simple, and seasonal ingredients that mirror the shifting seasons. Participants contribute a dish connected to the holiday, for Imbolc the shared meals would reflect the symbolism of returning light, warmth, and the onset of spring. Foods that are commonly associated with Imbolc and with the goddess Brigid, include oats which can be featured in cookies and muffins. Fresh herbs like chives or parsley signify the renewal of plant life. Root vegetables like carrots and turnips, along with potatoes, contribute to hearty warm dishes. Honey, representing the sweetness of life, is used as a natural sweetener. Seeds, sprouted or integrated into recipes, symbolize the potential for growth and new beginnings. Bread, often freshly baked, symbolizes the harvest and the hearth, sometimes shaped into symbols linked to Brigid like her equally armed cross.
As Imbolc is linked to the lactation of ewes, dairy products are often the focus such as milk, cheese, and butter. Making butter is a perfectly simple, hands-on activity that you can do on your own or with a gathering.
At gatherings we love to give everyone the opportunity to shake the sacred butter jar and infuse it with their festive vibes and heartfelt gratitude. We’ll slather the butter on homemade bread with our chalices full of home-brewed mead, a honey-based wine – toasting to the returning sun and the renewal of spring.
For those of you who are dairy intolerant I have a wonderful recipe that I’d like to share that you can use any milk substitute that works for you. This is my version of caffeine-free Peppermint Chai, a cherished tradition at our Imbolc gatherings and throughout the chilly months. The spices of chai tea synergistically work together to create a delightful sensory experience that is both comforting and warming.
3 bags of Peppermint Tea
1 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp whole Peppercorns
1 tsp ground Cardamom
¼ tsp ground Cloves
1 or 2 Cinnamon sticks
3 cups of milk or any of its substitutes you prefer.
2 tsp – ½ cup of the sweetener of choice, or not
Note * Make this recipe the day before as the flavors are much richer after they marinate overnight.
With each sip, connect with the divine, expressing your gratitude for the season’s turning and the goddess’s guidance. As the steam rises from the cup, carrying your intentions and prayers, offer this warm and fragrant elixir to Brigid with a heart full of reverence.
Check out our taped CommuniTea about all things Imbolc below!
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