Sunday, November 13, 2016

“Là Fhèill Brìghde”, by Annie Loughlin


Check out Annie Loughlin's article “Là Fhèill Brìghde” on her site Tairis: A Gaelic Polytheist Website.

Annie is a careful researcher and clear writer, who, bless her heart, graces her site with footnotes. She is also writing from a Scottish perspective, though of course she covers the Irish material as well.

I'll tantalize you with her opening:

Throughout the Gaelic world Brìde is one of the most popular saints, and is commonly known as the foster-mother of Christ and midwife of Mary. An apocryphal tale tells of how Brìde was in Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. She answered a knock on the door and found Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay, but was forced to turn them away. Before they left, however, she gave them water and some of her own bannock, seeing that they had had a long journey. Once they had left, Brìde turned round to find the bannock miraculously whole and the stoup of water full again. Knowing something out of the ordinary was happening, Brìde went looking for the couple and, seeing a strange star in the sky, followed it and found them in the stable, where Mary was about to give birth. Full of compassion, Brìde went to Mary’s aid and helped deliver her child.1
It is because of the events in this tale that Brìde is given the day before Candlemas as her own festival. Candlemas celebrates the ritual purification of Mary after giving birth, since Mary was said to be so grateful to her for her help. In parts of Ireland, it is said that Brìde helped distract the crowd present when Mary brought Jesus to the temple by parading ahead of Mary wearing a headdress of lighted candles, and it was because of this that Mary decreed that Bride should have a festival dedicated to her on the day before Mary’s own.2
There is often some confusion over the dating of Là Fhèill Brìghde, which is often given the same date as the Christian festival of Candlemas, on February 2. However, bearing in mind the tradition of Brìde being Mary’s midwife, Là Fhèill Brìghde actually falls on February 1 (or February 13, Old Style) the day before Candlemas. Candlemas and Là Fhèill Brìghde are therefore not the same festivals.
Now! Off with you to her website to read the full text.

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