Saturday, December 07, 2019

Make Imbolc a National Holiday!

"Brigid of Eire" has a campaign going on My Uplift to make Imbolc a bank holiday in Ireland. If you want to know more about the campaign, or if you are a resident of Ireland and want to put your name on the petition, follow the link below.

To: Minister for Business, Enterprise, Innovation, Heather Humphries TD

Make Brigid's Day a national holiday


Tiege McCian said...

Hello Mael Brigde!

I just found your interesting website and am trying to catch up on posts. I was just wondering what do you believe to be the origins of Imbolc? If it does ultimately mean "purification through milk," might it be related to the incident in the Middle Irish story of "Fosterage of the House of Two Pails," in which Tuatha de Danaan woman Eithne must drink only the milk of a certain magic cow? That incident parallels stories about Saint Bridget, but then maybe it was inspired by the saint to begin with.

Thank you for your time!

Mael Brigde said...

Hi, Tiege.

What an interesting question. There are so many possible origins of the word Imbolc, and though some seem unlikely to me, others seem possible, and no one strikes me as undoubtedly correct. I can't quite recall the exact one you give--do you know who first suggested it?

Otherworldly animals are (as you know, clearly) common in the tales, and cattle and the foods obtained from them were extremely important in medieval Irish society, so similar stories could have arisen separately.

It seems likely that Saint Brigit's story came first, but it doesn't appear in the earliest of her Lives--the one written by Cogitosus. Cogitosus was probably writing within a hundred years of Brigit's death--so the middle of the 7th century. The story of Brigit being unable to eat the druid's food appears in Vita Prima Sanctae Brigitae, from the 8th or late 9th century. This later Life diverges in many ways from the original.

If you're interested in her various Lives, I recommend Lisa Bitel's book Landscape with Two Saints. She digs into the varying needs of the writers and suggests reasons why elements of the stories are so different from each other.


Tiege McCian said...

Hey Mael Brigde, sorry for the late response. Eric P. Hamp derived Imbolc from a indo-european root meaning 'cleansing' and 'milk' published in Studia Celtica 14/15. Cormac's Glossary also says it derives from the word 'milk.' You're right, its probably all fanciful, but maybe worth mentioning.

Sounds like the Saint Brigit story was written much earlier, though I think it is interesting that stories with such similarities would be told of two very different women.

Thank you for the heads up on Lisa Bitel's book, I will definitely have to get it... now I just have to catch up on all the other Celtic books I've already bought! Also thank you for the great reply!

Mael Brigde said...

Thank _you_--and you are welcome--and enjoy. Apologies for not seeing your reply earlier. Enjoy your reading!