Imbolc - Candlemas 2nd February Celebrate the real first day of Spring. British Traditions


Imbolc bringer of Spring

Imbolc, in the ancient Celtic calender was a very important celebration. Being midway between winter and summer, Imbolc is the renewing of the Earth, praying that the seeds will grow and making sure that the lambs and foals would be born. The most important part of Imbolc was the performing of rituals so that they had enough food until the summers months. By the time of February 1st, food was scarce and the animals needed sufficient fuel for their babies to be born. It is believed that the word Imbolc comes from the old Celtic word for ewe's milk (Oi-melc). Some say the day to perform the rituals is on the 1st of February, some say the second. Most people got around this by ensuing the celebrations went on for two days.

The lighting of fires was the most symbolic act, calling down the God's and elements to warm the earth and bring forth light and life. Fire was the symbol of the Holy day of Brigid, also known as Bride, Brigit, Brid, who was the Goddess of fire, healing and of course fertility. She was worshipped for century's before the Christian Priests came and took over the pagan land, religion and beliefs, turning them into their God's, Saints and Holy men and women. Hence Brigid, Goddess of Fire became the celebration of Candlemas when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.


When Christians took over the sacred festival of Brigid, Goddess of Fire, they renamed her, St. Brigit. Today, Christians celebrate Candlemas with fire and candles, in fact St. Brigit's candle's were continuously burned by nuns to celebrate her light with fire. There are so many Pagan Gods and Goddesses taken over by the Christian church in this way. I don't believe that this is a bad thing, I think it is a lovely way of carrying on the tradition in a way that is comfortable to every religion and race.


Bringer of Spring

Spring is a wonderful time, probably the loveliest of all seasons. We have come through the dark winter, and can now look forward to warmth and life, the smell of beautiful flowers and baby animals being born. It is the Cycle of Life. Flowers begin to show their heads in February, pushing up slowly through the ground, peeking out precariously, always aware of frost or late snow. But it endures. Life is awakening, and there is joy to be had just looking and watching the changing of the animals behaviour, and the trees seeming to stretch and wake as if after a long nights sleep. You begin to hear birds singing in the trees again, as you awake near dawn. And the smell of the grass begins to come back, bringing with it a sense of summer. Feeling excited we run downstairs and open windows, breathing in the new dawn of the fresh spring air. Most people don't even think of spring appearing until at least the end of March. This is what has been taught over the last century, and this is what they have ingrained in their minds. Don't listen to them, listen to the Earth telling you that Imbolc is the first day of Spring. Open your eyes and you will see, breath in, and you will smell, and open your ears, because the animals will tell you.

The Marsden Imbolc Festival


Marsden Imbolc Festival.

The Marsden Imbolc Festival is celebrated every year, in the Pennine hills of Yorkshire, England. Included is a fantastic torch lit procession, fire circus skills, theatrical performance, and a fireworks display. Can't ask for more than that!

On the night of the festival, a torch lit procession begins at the Old Goods Yard in the village. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is lit up by loads of lanterns and over 2000 people attend. The procession is lead by drummers and everyone makes their way to the Standedge Experience ground.

With Jack Frost fighting with the Green Man of spring, the crowd watch the battle waiting for The Green Man to win over the icy snows of winter, Jack Frost. The evening is finished of by a fantastic display of Fireworks.

Imbolc Spring Traditions

Did you know that spring cleaning comes from this festival of fire? the symbolic cleaning of your house, which is now traditionally done in many parts of the world, actually comes from Brigid Goddess of Fire, or St. Brigit, as Christians now know her. It was not only the cleaning of your house that was important, it was also the de-cluttering of your mind and habits! New promises were made, and resolutions were written down and burned, so as to make them come true. Hearth fires were lit, and kept tended, and doilies, small dolls made out of sheaf of oats, or wheat, were dressed in women's clothes and buried in the earth as a fertility rite. These were called Bridie dolls in honour of Brigid the Goddess, or St. Brigit. The dolls were sometimes placed on the doorsteps of women hoping to become pregnant, as a sign of fertility, to help the women conceive. And of course, a white candle was burned throughout the night in celebration and blessing to the Goddess or St. Brigit. Another form of feasting was thought to have taken place, using the docked tails of lambs in a celebratory dish.

Planting spring flowers, reading poetry, and telling stories, along with candle making is another part of the ancient tradition. Why not try it yourself? The children would love it, and of course it is also a Christian tradition too!

Imbolc Pagan Style

Contrary to popular believe, Pagans believe in God and the tending of the Earth. Every Imbolc Eve, The Festival of Fire is still celebrated. These rituals are still very popular and take place every year. Processions through the streets, with fire torches, dancing and just having a great time still do take place. Pagans believe in being in tune with nature, and respecting all forms of life given by God. That is why you will find that many people involved today with conservation of one species or another are in fact pagan! Love, peace and the respect of Mother Earth is tantamount to Pagan religions. So, at this time of year, when Pagans and Christians are celebrating the birth of Spring, whether you are in Britain or Norway, where the festivals are very big, or anywhere else in the world, I wish you good health, wealth and whatever else you wish for this new spring. Happy festival. have a great Imbolc.

So Blessed Be Brigid Goddess of Fire.

And of course, Blessings to St. Brigit.


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Comments 68 comments

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Wow, I had never heard of any of these festivals and celebrations. Candlemas sounds especially interesting (I love candles). Love this hub and going to share it on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers, Steph

Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

I do dimly remember hearing of Candlemas. All my ancestors were Welsh, and I have a vague remembrance of my father mentioning it.

I wish I could join in the celebration, but February in Vermont is the coldest month of the year, with Spring reluctantly arriving in late April with the coming of "mud-season".

Though I cannot attend, I'm with you in spirit. Cheers! :{)


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 6 years ago from Maryland

Nell, thank you so much for writing this hub! I celebrate Imbolc as with all the festivals on the wheel of the year - and am so happy to see others write about them. This article was a great tribute to the Old Ways and how they have evolved in Christiandom. I wish I could be in England this time of year, seeing the pictures of the festivals going on there, we have nothing like that here in the states for Imbolc that I know of. I'm aware of many Beltane gatherings and summer rituals/gatherings. The biggest thing pending in this area at the end of Feb is Persephone's Ball which is a big masquerade to raise money for an Open Hearth foundation. Thanks for keeping the spirit alive. Blessed Be!

Nan 6 years ago

Thanks for enlightening us of a tradition from England. It is good to know what other people do and how they celebrate. It's cold in the midwest and mostly we hide out indoors.

Marie-Renee profile image

Marie-Renee 6 years ago

Voted it up Nell. Very informative hub, as usual. Congratulations, you really worked hard on this. Take care!

christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

My aunt used to make a St Brigids Cross every year.

It is made from rushes. I expect some people in Ireland still do the same.

Thank you Nell for a most interesting hub.

Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Hi Nell,

Great Hub and I loved reading it, the one small niggle I have with it is the PC way you deal with the early Christian’s, You said :

“There are so many Pagan Gods and Goddesses taken over by the Christian church in this way. I don't believe that this is a bad thing, I think it is a lovely way of carrying on the tradition in a way that is comfortable to every religion and race.”

I’m not entirely convinced that the gentle way you put it was the way the Christians intended, to me it was a deliberate and wanton act of sabotage. Please excuse the term but they Bastardised everything they touched in some sort of holier Than Thou takeover, Take Christmas and Eater as two wonderful examples, then persecuted everyone that refused to abandon the old ways.

I agree these wonderful old ceremonies and festivals should be celebrated and remember but out in the open as they were originally, but certainly not in a church as so granting them the legitimacy they seek and whitewash their brutal crimes.

Sorry if that sounds like a rant but I think you know where I’m coming from.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

Hi, Nell..

Great hub with wonderful background information.

I do have to agree with Merlin Fraser, however. It may or may not have been a "bad thing" for the early church to "baptize" the old rituals; but the way they went about it was horrible. "Baptizing" is even too gentle a term--it was strictly an attempt to eliminate other belief systems. The awful part about it is their LIES on the matter to this day.

The entire Christian takeover of the older celebrations was about as intolerant, violent and one-sided, as things get. In one word: hypocritical: diametrically opposed to the love and tolerance they preach.

However, I did enjoy reading about the various traditions of the celebration we now call "Groundhog Day." ;-)


Muldanian 6 years ago

Very interesting hub.

Candlemas was until the 19th century the day when Christmas decorations, which then consisted of holly, ivy, box, yew, and mistletoe were taken down. As was the nativity scene, as 2nd February is 40 days after Christmas Day and was then considered the end of Christmas.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, Merlin, Yep, I suppose I was a bit pc there! lol I do totally agree with you, I think the point I was just trying to make was, as long as it is still remembered, then as long as it isn't taken over too much, it's fine, and the one thing that always tickles me is that even though everyone thinks it is Christian with Christmas trees, and Candlemass i.e. imbolc, celebrations, we know that really everything they are using is really pagan! lol I suppose I was just trying to be 'a politition!' ha ha but I got caught out! hee hee thanks again nell

Hi, DzyM, thanks for reading it, as you can see, you and Merlin got me there! ha ha I quite agree, the Church has a lot to answer for, but I think the more we become pagan again, the more it seems to be seeping into the Church and blending in with that religion. that I see as a good thing, one of these days, both will be accepted exactly the same, hope so anyway, thanks as always nell

Hi, muldanian, exactly, and of course all the holly, ivy, and other plants are pagan symbols too! thanks for taking the time to read it, cheers nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, steph, Christopher, Erin nan and Marie, it seems that my comment to you disappeared into hyperspace! goodness knows where it went! but thanks anyway, and I really appreciate your reading it, I hope this one works!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Oops! and christopher too! ha ha

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

If it's St something it is probably Catholic, which is also Christian and off and on for months I have been meaning to find a scripture that I think pertains to the Christmas tree and it seems saying it's no big deal or OK. (Old Testament)Sadly I don't keep my bible as close at hand as I used to but since I have been here about everything is covered with something, lol. Great hub, really entertaining. Got my site up and just had to make a couple adjustments, looks pretty good and now although I still have much ready for adding to the first one I am working hard on the second one. Is fun though..isn't it? My son bought me a book about blogging so maybe soon I will get into that.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

Nell this is very interesting, I, like them, am awaiting spring with a vengeance. I dislike winter and love it when new birth starts to bud. Thank you.


sligobay profile image

sligobay 6 years ago from east of the equator

Hello Nell- You are such a wonderful writer in this wintry world. Imbolc was so brilliantly described and peppered with your personal passion. The spice of your style is essential to you and your work and cannot be added to taste later. It is your original ingredient and makes you and your work simply scrumptious and satisfyingly delicious. Thank you for your contribution to my delight. Cheers.

amybradley77 profile image

amybradley77 6 years ago

Love this page, I have studied these things being curios of my Irish back ground. That I know little to nothing of, being raised by my step-family and Native American Mother. I always long to know more, I know there is quite a bit of Irish blood in me. I think it explains my writing imaginations, so my Mother tells me anyway. This is a beautiful page, very well done from what I'v learned so far anyway. A.B.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

A great hub, Nell, and I think Pagan religion has more sense, warmth and feeling in it than any other religion. It developed out of Mother Nature. Thank you for an enjoyable read.

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Interesting hub on Imbolc and Candlemas Nell. Somehow with our weather, February 2nd rarely feels remotely springlike. But the evenings are getting lighter!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Polly, getting a book is a good idea, you can go back and read it whenever you get stuck on something, good luck! cheers nell

Hi, Ruby, it certainly seems to be taking it's time this year! lol I know it is because winter was really early this year, so hopefully so will spring! thanks again as always, nell

Hi, amy, I love all the old traditions of Britain, and I think this one is all across Europe too, you should look into your family history, you never know who you might find! cheers nell

Hi, Hello hello, I quite agree with you, pagans are so into the animals and flowers, it is a lovely religion, thanks so much as always nell

Hi, CMHypno, I think it is more to do with the flowers budding and animals having their young than the weather, there is nothing nicer than seeing buds when it is still snowing, thanks again nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, sligo, thank you so much, I love your way with words, so poetical, and I really appreciate it, thanks as always nell

lightning john profile image

lightning john 5 years ago from Florida

I really like this and love the pictures as well. Very Good!


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

This is so interesting, I would definitely like to know more about your part of the world. :)

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

lovely Nell! I long to visit Yorkshire but now I have another reason to visit one February. cheers!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, John, thanks for reading it, I am glad you liked it, thanks nell

Hi, Qudsia, we do have some great traditions, I will write some more soon, thanks so much nell

Hi, Green Lotus, I think you will love it! thanks as always nell

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

dang-it, nell! you beat me to the punch! i was just looking at books today thinking i wanted to do a hub on this very topic! oh, probably wrote it better since you do live in england and all. :) great hub and wonderful lady!

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Wow Nell - wonderfully put up and love the pics~!

I'm all about festivals and that looks like such fun - visually and sensually! (that wasn't a bad word in this case, right?) I mean that it would be a feast for the senses!

PR Morgan profile image

PR Morgan 5 years ago from Sarasota Florida

Greeting Nell, I am new here but found this new hub informative and interesting. I haven't commented on it, but you alien abduction poem caught my eye...also very interesting. How did you get into that type of poetry? I would like to give it a try myself. Great work, I will be reading more of it you can be sure!

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

I never knew about Imbolc bofore. Thanks, Nell for entertaining me with your ability to bring new and fun things to the light. I learn much from you and I really enjoy all information including the pictures. Vote up. God bless you.

Love and peace, Prasetio

Ashantina profile image

Ashantina 5 years ago

I learn so much here on HP. Cheers Nell :)

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Ashantina, lol I know what you mean! thanks so much, nell

Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 5 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

Nell, fantastic girl friend! Loved this hub. The pics were great. Thank you for all the work you put in to this hub and sharing it with us here on hub pages



Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Tina, I have been going around telling everybody that spring is already here! lol thanks as always, nell

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

Hey, Nell, I love this!!

I'm sorry that I don't have time to read it now --- unfortunately. I love the pix, the info --- all of it. Thanks so much.

Up, Awesome, Interesting, Beautiful.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks Huntgoddess!

ziyena profile image

ziyena 4 years ago from Southern Colorado

I can use this for my research when working on my historical romance writing ... Thank you!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, ziyena, I am so pleased you found it helpful! good luck with your historical book, thanks!

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

What wonderful writing Nell, I thoroughly enjoyed this read and the pictures, I especially liked your paragraph on 'Bringer of Spring'

Thank you, voting up, best wishes Lesley

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Lesley, thanks so much for reading, I love all the old witchy traditions, and they fascinate me to see how they change into Christian symbols too, thanks, by the way, I am loving the new 'alert' at the top of the page to let us know if someone has commented! great stuff! lol!

marellen 4 years ago

Hi Nell, I have only heard of these festivals and Saint Days from my daughter who is studying Paganism and I find it all very interesting. Thank you for expanding on these holidays.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Interesting hub Nell, there was actually sonething on BBC news this morning about Shetlanders celebrating Candlemas (linked to their Norse heritage as well), lots of fires, community spirit and they burnt a long boat at the end, looked like good fun. Voted up, shared.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Beautiful! I love Celtic studies and literature. Your pages feel like home. Just beautiful!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, marellen, its interesting to see how Christianity overtook the pagan rituals and added something to them, obviously it must have been a special day for a particular reason back then, but I love the old religion ideas, thanks nell

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

What a beautiful and interesting hub! I hope you don't mind if I link it to the section of my Groundhog Day (also Feb. 2nd) hub where I mentioned Candlemas briefly. I love the wonderful history that you've discussed!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Jools, my friend comes from the Shetlands! the smallest island I think called Unst. She told me it was called Up helli a, I think that's how you spell it, evidently as you say it comes from Norwegian as most of the Shetland islanders do originate from there even though they sound Scottish, I would love to go and see it, she has numerous times! thanks for reading, cheers nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks tammy, I love anything Celtic and pagan, they always say its the Scottish, Irish and Welsh that's Celtic when in fact Southern England is one of the most Celtic parts of all, remember we had the greatest Celtic Queen of all down here, well, more to the East but not far, Boudicca!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thank you Stephanie, that would be great! I love the fact that it all happens on the same day! Imbolc, Candlemass and Groundhog day! I will put yours here too, if you don't mind? Thanks!

shorty72 4 years ago

Once again great hub, your pics are great and very informative I love reading your hubs. Thanks

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks shorty, I am glad you liked it, thanks!

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

This was a fascinating hub---Thank you!

sublimegurl439 profile image

sublimegurl439 4 years ago from Granite Bay, CA

What a wonderful hub! Voted up and awesome! I'm in a Pagan class and I'm almost in my 2nd year. This year my circle family and I are celebrating the wheel of the year in other cultures. Our tradition is Celtic, but every other year we go into other cultures. Tomorrow we are celebrating Brigid's Day in Aboriginal Australia culture. We are going to do a traditional fire dance and we're making didgeridoos. Its going to be awesome! Thanks again for the wonderful hub. I loved it!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Audrey, thanks so much, I am glad you liked it, thanks!

Hi, sublimegurl, that sounds awesome! always wanted a go on a didgeridoo! lol! good luck, and don't burn your feet! haha!

angel115707 profile image

angel115707 4 years ago from Galveston, TX

very cute hub, I can feel it in the air, and yes, the earth does speak to us... Just a note on Christianity VS. Pagans.....

Catholicism is mostly what you and many commenters are referring to, and when (not you but angry commenters)complain and bash Catholics, they are bashing pagan born Christians really. The beginning of the church was founded by pagans who realized God is jealous and doesn't want them to worship everything they see.... in remorse they became extreme about many things they didn't like, and what they did, yes you are right, they converted it to acceptable terms. There are many great things about pagans and Christians, yes, Pagans are usually more in touch with the earth, but Christians can admit One creator is worth worshiping and it doesn't mean you have to give up on loving or talking to the earth and all it contains...bla bla I know both sides will stay stubborn, but honestly, both sides are wrong about a few things, and the true way will come forth shining a light on all the knowledge that is now in part.... still love your hubs... :)

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks angel for your thoughts, much appreciated, cheers nell

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

I did not know that Boudicea (spelling?) was from Southern England, or that Southern was the most Celtic. Thanks for the info, Nell. You should write a Hub about her. (Too sad, though?)

BTW to angel: I don't think pagans and Christians are in competition. We are all brothers and sisters. Most of the early Christians were Jewish. No competition there, either. I feel there is beautify and truth in every religion.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Huntgoddess, yes the Celtics were all over Britain and Southern England was a hot spot for them, I can never understand why people say its Scotland or Ireland, in fact Scotland doesn't even have Celtic! They are Gaelic, as from the gaels in france! Pagans are just pagans, we believe what we want to just as other religions, If everybody watched the film called Down the rabbit hole, or what the bleep, quantum physics, then they would realise exactly what religion is about, and exactly what happens when look at the smallest thing! I highly recommend it, if you can get it from Amazon its well worth the watching! especially the bit about praying over water! thanks again, nell

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

This is most interesting. I love learning new things about holidays and general traditions. Thanks for reviving this and sharing ...wasn't here when you first wrote it.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks carol, glad you liked it, and if we go by the celtic calander then its spring! lol!

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

I am so glad this hub popped up again, Nell. I love reading about the old ways and the festivals, symbolic traditions of the people, etc. I guess I am Pagan after all. I am so glad you wrote this and that I found it. Thanks.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Phyllis, lol! welcome to the pagan hood! thanks so much for reading, and I am glad you liked it, nell

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 2 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

I never knew where the name "Imbolc" came from.

Very interesting, Nell. I read this before, but I'll have to review the links and all. There's so much great information here. (And, my memory is starting to "go". A little review never hurts anyway LOL.)

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Huntgoddess, lol! yes I know what you mean about memory, mine too! thanks so much for reading, and great to see you!

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 2 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

No problem, Nell. LOL about memory, right?

Nice to see you also, dear Nell. So sorry I've been away. Hoping to remedy that? And make up for lost time.

Take care, dear.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Thanks Huntgoddess, yes memory! LOL! it will be great to have you back, take care, nell

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 2 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

Thanks again, dear, and thanks for reading my review of Roast Mortem. It's quite an honor.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Aw thanks Huntgoddess! have a wonderful day.

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 2 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.


You too, dear.

suzettenaples 11 months ago

Great article, Nell. So interesting and informative. Happy Spring! The festivals and celebrations look so fun!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 11 months ago from England Author

Hi suzette! lol! didn't see ya there! thanks as always, nell

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