Celtic Holidays, Irish Traditions

Imbolc – Saint Brigid’s Day February 1st

Imbolc or Imbolg, also called Brigid’s Day, and Saint Brigid’s Day is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. Saint Brigid’s Day is also called: Lá Fhéile Bríde (Irish), Là Fhèill Brìghde (Scottish Gaelic)

St. Brigid Cross in Two Tone

Saint Brigid’s Day – February 1st

This feast day is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Saint Brigid of Ireland, whose feast day is February 1st, led a fascinating life. Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Patrick and Columbia. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and founder of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland, which was famous and was revered.

Saint Brigid’s Prayer ….

Saint Brigid, You were a woman of peace. You brought harmony where there was conflict. You brought light to the darkness. You brought hope to the downcast. May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious, and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world. Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made. Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary. Strengthen what is weak within us. Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens. May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.

Amen.

What is a St Bridget’s Cross?

This beautiful cross known as a St. Brigid’s Cross is a wonderful tribute to Ireland’s beloved saint. Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Saint Patrick. Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares a name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.

How to make a Saint Brigid’s Cross

Making a Saint Bridget’s Cross is a custom in Ireland. The St Bridget’s Cross is made out of plants called rushes (Juncus effusus) for hanging above the entrances to dwellings to invoke the help of St Bridget in warding off disease. St Bridget’s Day is celebrated on the 1st February each year and the crosses are made at that time. Rushes were traditionally used to make the St Bridget’s Cross. These were collected from wetlands and cut into pieces, 8-12 inches long. Rushes can be hard to get for city dwellers so ordinary paper environmentally friendly drinking straws and rubber are a good substitute to make with children. 

You can watch an IPCC video showing you how to make a cross. Please follow this link.

If You Can’t Get Rushes You Will Need

  • 9 paper environmentally friendly drinking straws
  • 4 small rubber bands

What to Do

  1. Hold one of the straws vertically. Fold a second straw in half as in the diagram.
  2. Place the first vertical straw in the center of the folded second straw.
  3. Hold the center overlap tightly between thumb and forefinger.
  4. Turn the two straws held together 90 degrees counter clockwise so that the open ends of the second straw are projecting vertically upwards.
  5. Fold a third straw in half and over both parts of the second straw to lie horizontally from left to right against the first straw. Hold tight.
  6. Holding the center tightly, turn the three straws 90 degrees counter clockwise so that the open ends of the third straw are pointing upwards.
  7. Fold a new straw in half over and across all the staws pointing upwards.
  8. Repeat the process of rotating all the straws 90 degrees counter clockwise, adding a new folded straw each time until all nine straws have been used up to make the cross.
  9. Secure the arms of the cross with elastic bands. Trim the ends to make them all the same length. The St Bridget’s Cross is now ready to hang.
How to Make A St Bridget's Cross

Text, Photographs and Images © Irish Peatland Conservation Council, Bog of Allen Nature Centre, Lullymore, Rathangan, Co. Kildare. Email: bogs@ipcc.ie; Tel: +353-45-860133.

Celtic Holidays, Ireland, Irish Christmas, Irish Traditions

The Day Of The Wren Known as St Stephen’s Day

Straw Boys

One of Ireland’s unique and darker traditions, celebrated on December 26th, relates to killing a small bird in revenge for betraying St Stephen.
“Hunting the Wren” is an Irish tradition that is believed to pre-date Christian times. It sounds pretty cruel, where basically the tiny bird is captured, killed and tied to a pole. Local musicians and dancers would then dress in garish disguises and go house to house collecting money, food and drink for a party. Woe betide the house that did not donate to the cause – the wren could be buried outside their door which would bring 12 months of bad luck!

St Stephen


King of the Birds or Traitor of Saints??
The wren is considered the ‘King of the Birds’ and is also associated with the old year. It was said that capturing the bird alive would herald in a new and prosperous year. As the king of the birds the wren occupied a prominent position in the druidic pagan religion. Sailors and fishermen believed that those who possessed a wren feather would never be shipwrecked.

Legend has it that the wren was a small feathered traitor, but legend cannot agree if this dubious reputation was earned by betraying a saint’s hiding place, ruining a secret attack by Irish warriors or by being a fairy seductress – all intriguing in their own right.
One version of the story tells that St Stephen was hiding in a bush from his enemies, only for his hiding to be revealed by the chattering of a wren. Another maintains that in the 700s during the Viking troubles, when Irish warriors crept up on the Danes to attack, a little wren beat out a warning by picking crumbs from the drum held by a sleeping Viking. And lastly, there was a fairy woman called Cliona was in the habit of luring local men to a watery grave. She had the power to turn herself into, you’ve guessed it, a wren.

the wren

An Irish St. Stephen’s Day Tradition
The feast of St. Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr, is celebrated on December 26th. Connecting the Wren Boys ritual (Lá an Dreoilín) as the day when the traitor wren betrayed St. Stephen is a good example of how Ireland’s pagan traditions were merged with Christianity (it also happened with St Brigid)

The Wren, the Wren the king of all birds,
St. Stephens’s day, he was caught in the furze.
Although he is little, his honour is great,
Rise up, kind sir, and give us a trate.

We followed this Wren ten miles or more
Through hedges and ditches and heaps of snow,
We up with our wattles and gave him a fall
And brought him here to show you all.

For we are the boys that came your way
To bury the Wren on Saint Stephens’s Day,
So up with the kettle and down with the pan!
Give us some help for to bury the Wren!

Modern Revival
Nowadays, a more humane Wren Boys is still practiced in mainly rural areas, they don’t kill the wren anymore, thank goodness. The tradition consists of “hunting” a fake wren, and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Crowds of mummers or straw boys celebrate the wren by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colorful motley clothing and, accompanied by céilí music bands, parade through the towns and villages. A celebration is still held around the decorated pole and the money that is collected from the townspeople is now donated to a school or charity.

Cautionary word of warning to all wrens – a wren’s feather is still thought to bring good luck, so maybe lie low around Christmas time…

Shop Irish at The Irish Jewelry Company and learn more about Irish traditions.

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Jewelry, Ireland, Irish Christmas, Irish Jewelry

Irish Christmas Gift Guide

Shop fabulous Irish Christmas Gifts from The Irish Jewelry Company

The Christmas Season in Ireland is a special time to celebrate faith and show our loved ones at home and afar how much you care. Celebrate the Christmas season in style with our stunning range of Irish Christmas gifts and Irish Jewelry for Christmas at The Irish Jewelry Company. Surprise delighted friends and family with an Irish Christmas Gift of quality and distinction delivered directly to their door anywhere in the world.

Irish Christmas Ornaments & Irish Christmas Gifts

Treat yourself or a loved one to a beautiful Irish Christmas gift this Christmas. Whether home or abroad we can deliver the perfect Irish Christmas gift worldwide. They offer an extensive range of Irish Christmas ornaments, nativity sets, Irish angel figurines & much much more.

Irish Christmas Gifts and Traditions

Like most countries, Ireland has many of it’s own special Irish Christmas traditions. Ireland’s Christmas traditions that have survived to modern times are steeped in Celtic culture and religious faith. Irish Christmas Traditions like placing a candle in the window, having Christmas Plum Pudding or placing holiday crackers a small Irish Christmas Gift at each placing at the Christmas table are traditions still carried on today.

Last Minute Irish Stocking Stuffers and unique little Irish gifts for all the stockings you need to stuff this Christmas! Tiny Irish Gifts, cute enough to impress but not break the bank.

Mens Claddagh Necklace

Christmas is a special time to celebrate and show that special loved one at home and afar how much you appreciate and love them. What better little gift than a peice of jewelry in someone specials stocking. Celebrate the Christmas season in style with our stunning range of Irish Jewelry Christmas gifts and Celtic Jewelry for Christmas at The Irish Jewelry Company.

Surprise delighted friends and family with an Irish Christmas Gift of quality authentic Irish jewelry delivered directly to their door anywhere in the world.

Irish or not, if you want to give an Irish Gift for Christmas as a token of your friendship, love and loyalty that has meaning, the Claddagh rings may be the choice for you. Claddagh rings, are often mistakenly spelt Clatter Ring or Clodagh Ring, like it sounds (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring. The Claddagh ring means eternal love, loyalty, and friendship. Claddagh rings consists of a heart with a crown held by two hands symbolizing love, loyalty and friendship. Claddagh Rings have become a world renowned symbol of love.

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Jewelry, Irish Jewelry, Irish Traditions

Five Top Irish Gifts for Any Occasion

Claddagh Rings

Ireland is not only the home of St. Patrick, but also a rich and beautiful culture of Celtic symbols and traditions. Discover the best Irish Gifts and Celtic Jewelry online store. Authentic, creative and unique gifts from Ireland. Find the perfect Irish gift for any occasion with our wide range of Irish gifts. Truly unique Luxury Irish Gifts For Any Special Occasion Delivered Fast.

Whatever the occasion, you’re sure to make it memorable with our gorgeous selection of Irish gifts.Whether you are congratulating the happy couple on their big day  or welcoming that precious newborn, we have the finest Irish gifts from Ireland.

Top 5 Traditional Irish Gifts

  1. Irish Jewelry
  2. Irish Wool
  3. Irish Linen
  4. Irish Whiskey
  5. Irish Fragrances

And for that special someone, we have an exclusive collection of beautiful Irish jewelry they’ll adore, including a gorgeous selection of Claddagh rings, authentic Celtic Jewelry, and brilliant Irish pendants. Ordering Irish Gifts at The Irish Jewelry Company‘s online Irish Store is quick, easy, and reliable. So send them a wee piece of Ireland for that special occasion with our authentic Irish gifts.

What is Irish jewelry?

Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry are unique pieces of jewelry steeped in Irish tradition and heritage. The Irish have a proud tradition of Irish jewelry making. Often Irish jewelry symbols come from unique symbols of Irish and Celtic culture. Symbols like the shamrock, Celtic knot and harp to the wonderful Claddagh ring which has gained fame around the world. At The Irish Jewelry Company we are proud of this Irish heritage. At The Irish Jewelry Company you will find an exclusive designer collection of Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry like the traditional Celtic knot and claddagh designs, in silver and gold. As jewelry designers we make sure every piece of Irish jewelry is authentic in detail and beautifully crafted.

Irish Wool

The Aran Knit takes its name from the set of islands where it originated many generations ago, off the West coast of Ireland. The Aran Islands are at the mouth of Galway Bayin the Atlantic Sea. The home of fishermen and farmers the Aran Sweater was from a seafaring heritage, passed down from generation to generation, and is an important symbol of Irish family heritage.

Aran Sweater Origins

The Aran sweater inspired the Aran Jewelry Collection as a symbol of Irish heritage and traditional Irish customs. Our Aran Irish jewelry collection is inspired by the Aran sweater weaving traditions and spinning tales connecting families for generations. Browse Aran Jewelry designs Inspired by the Aran Sweater & Islands.

The Aran Knit takes its name from the set of islands where it originated many generations ago, off the West coast of Ireland. The Aran Islands are at the mouth of Galway Bayin the Atlantic Sea. The home of fishermen and farmers the Aran Sweater was from a seafaring heritage, passed down from generation to generation, and is an important symbol of Irish family heritage.

Aran Sweater Origins

The origins of the Aran knit are uniquely related to the Irish clans and their identities. The intricate pattern of knots and stitches seen on the aran knit are unique to each familty and were used to identify a clan or town. They can hold vast amounts of information to those who know how to interpret them. Aran knit sweaters were, and still are a reflection of the lives of the talented knitters and their Irish families.

Irish Fragrance

The Hibernia range of Eau de Toilette Perfume was designed to capture the essence of the Celtic Woman.

Each unique fragrance embodies a different aspect of the female Celtic character – passion, charm & spirit. Presented in a beautiful Celtic inspired bottle, containing 50ml of divine bespoke scent, these fragrances are the perfect treat for any Celtic woman & make an extremely desirable gift. They are made in Ireland using the highest quality ingredients.

Irish Linen

Irish Linen is the brand name given to linen produced in Ireland. Irish Linen yarn is defined as yarn which is spun in Ireland from 100% flax fibers. Irish Linen fabric is defined as fabric which is woven in Ireland from 100% linen yarns.

Irish Lace began in the 1800’s many families in Ireland lived in small thatched cottages on land called crofts producing crops for the Lord of the Manor. Crofters were “dirt poor” with little money for necessities. Then the potato blight hit between 1845 and 1851 destroying the crops and causing thousands of families to starve. The Ursuline nuns were familiar with Venetian lace, brought over from France. The nuns used their skills in crocheting lace to help save the people from the famine. They began schooling women to produce the fine crochet that has come to be known as “Irish lace.” The more affluent Irish families that could meet the expense to buy the lace earned the name of “lace curtain Irish.” Families had their own designs and motifs and closely guarded their patterns which were passed from mother to daughter. The particulars were kept so secret that many of them vanished as the families either died or fled the poverty for other lands.

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey in Irish is Fuisce or uisce beatha. Irish whiskey is whiskey made in Ireland. The word ‘whiskey’ or whisky comes from the Irish or ‘Gaelic’ uisce beatha, meaning water of life. Irish whiskey or the water of life was once the most popular spirit in the world.

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Jewelry, Celtic Legends, Halloween, Irish Jewelry, News

Have you Ever Heard of the Legend of the Celtic Cat?

The Legend of the Celtic Cat

In Celtic folklore there is a magical set of cats or “fairy cats”. In Scotland they are known as the cait sith. In Ireland they are called cait sidhe. Whether Gaelic or Scotch Gaelic they are both pronounced as “caught shee”. The cait sidhe aren’t your ordinary felines, they are thought as fairies, even witches, and as spirit creatures that merely take the form of a cat. Those that have seen them describe them as being unusually large, all black cats with a spot of white fur on their chest. Generally, the cait sidhe is viewed as fearsome and was used as a symbol by Celtic warriors.

Our Celtic Cat Pendant is absolutely purrrr-fect! This beautifully diamond accented Celtic Cat Pendant with black enamel pays tribute to the cait sidhe. The cait sidhe is a mythical fairy creature in Scottish and Irish folklore.

Read more about Celtic Halloween Origins, Samhain Traditions, and Halloween Superstitions online at The Irish Jewelry Company.

Shop Halloween Celtic jewelry like the Celtic Cat Pendant , Celtic Fairy Pendant and the Celtic Owl Jewelry at The Irish Jewelry Jewelry Company

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Legends, Halloween, Interesting Stories, Irish Traditions, News

The Celtic Origins of Halloween and Halloween Traditions

As children and adults around the world take part in the spooky festivities of Halloween on the night of October 31st, All Hallows Eve, few know of its ancient Irish Celtic roots in the Samhain (Samain) festival.

Read more about Celtic Halloween Origins, Samhain Traditions, and Halloween Superstitions online at The Irish Jewelry Company.

Shop Halloween jewelry like the Celtic Cat Pendant , Celtic Fairy Pendant and the Celtic Owl Jewelry at The Irish Jewelry Jewelry Company

Irish Halloween Traditions and Halloween Origins. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.theirishjewelrycompany.com/irish_halloween_traditions_halloween_origins.

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Motherhood Jewelry, Interesting Stories, Irish Jewelry, Irish Traditions, Irish Wit & Wisdom, Mother's Day, News

Key Signs You Were Raised by an Irish Mom or Italian Mom

family, motherhood, children, parenthood and people concept – happy mother kissing her baby over green natural background

Many if our Irish American readers were probably raised by an Irish Mom or an Irish American Mom Irish, even an Italian mom if you Dad was the Irish one.  Irish Moms and Italian Moms are pretty much the same. It hard not to recognize those enduring traits that make them both great moms. They are both their children’s number fan. They are encouraging, caring, and show unconditional love and devotion for us in their own special ways. Both moms have the power to make you cry in fear object fear of a simple cooking utensil, known as the dreaded wooden spoon.

You know you were raised by either an Irish mom or an Italian mom if you know all the important Saints by heart.

Every time you lose something, and you searched high and low for it without success  and you just happen to mention it to mom she will undoubtedly say “Have you said a prayer to Saint Anthony yet?”. Rest assured, without fail good old St. Anthony usually comes through with finding your car keys. Every Irish mother or Italian mother has a favorite saint that they prayer too repeatable that they insist have never let them down.

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“I have eyes in the back of my head you know.”

Were we all just stupid kids but for years we really thought our mothers had eyes in the back of their heads? Mom ALWAYS knew when you were up to no good or lying.

“Don’t make me get the wooden spoon….”

Oh, those dreaded words… even the sound of the draw where it was kept opening was enough to put the fear of God in you. You ran at the sight of a wooden spoon. No matter what the issue was you were battling her over, just when you thought you had her she would start counting to three. Knew the wooden spoon was coming out next.

Mom always slipped you some extra money

If you had an Irish mom, she is good for about a spare 20 quid until you are about thirty. If you had an Italian mom, it was you cannot go out without any cash and you always left Nona’s side $20 richer. It was for candy or ice cream when you were a little kid and later as you got older is was probably gas money.

Let’s face it, motherhood is not easy, but mom always made it seem like it was her greats priority and we were her greatest achievement. Whether you had an Irish mom or an Italian mom her enduring love is a true testament to the enduring bond between a mother and child. Remember to honor her on Mother’s Day with a special Mother’s Day gift like a piece of motherhood Jewelry to show your appreciation for all she has done and continues to do for you. I mean really , what mom wouldn’t want a beautiful piece of mother’s jewelry from her baby.

Halloween, Interesting Stories, Irish Traditions

IRISH HALLOWEEN TRADITION – BARMBRACK

There are many Irish Halloween traditions in Ireland. One of my favorites is barmbrack.
Barmbrack is at the very core of the Irish Halloween traditions. The Halloween Brack, much like Christmas pudding traditionally contained various objects baked into the sweet bread. These various items were used as fortune-telling. In the barmbrack items like a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring were traditionally used. When an item is received in the slice, had a meaning for that person. For instance if you got the pea, the person would not marry that year, the stick, you’ll have an unhappy marriage , the cloth or rag meant bad luck or you’ll be poor; the coin of course meant you’ll have good fortune or be rich and the ring, meant you would be wed within the year. Other items also added to the brack were medals, usually of the Virgin Mary to symbolize going into the priesthood or becoming a nun, although this tradition isn’t very popular today.

Recipe
INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon dry active yeast
⅔ cup/158 milliliters lightly warmed milk
1 egg, beaten
1 ⅔ cups/214 grams all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
¼ teaspoon cinnamon 12002851_1068039236547381_8260594681565605031_n
¼ teaspoon clove
¼ teaspoon mace ( Mace is made from the lacy, red outer coating that covers the shell around the nutmeg kernel. )
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons/28 grams unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing pan
¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar
½ cup/75 grams golden raisins
½ cup/75 grams black raisins
½ cup/75 grams currants
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

In a small bowl, whisk the yeast and milk together. Leave it to bubble slowly in a warm spot 10 minutes, then whisk in the beaten egg.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, put the flour, cinnamon, clove, mace, salt, butter and sugar. Mix well, incorporating butter with fingertips (or paddle, if using mixer) until absorbed.
Pour the yeast-milk-egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon (or dough hook, with mixer).
When the dough begins to come together, add the raisins, currants, lemon zest and orange zest, then mix to combine. It will be somewhat sticky dough. Dust lightly with flour, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough feels smooth. Pat dough into a rectangle.
Butter a loaf pan and lay in the dough, pushing down so dough covers bottom of pan. Stretch plastic wrap loosely over pan and put in a warm place, covered with a kitchen towel, for about an hour, until doubled in size. Uncover.
Heat oven to 350 degrees and center a rack in the oven. Bake loaf on the centered rack for 45 minutes, until well browned. Carefully tip the loaf out of the pan onto a cooling rack. To tell whether it’s done, thump the bottom of the loaf with your fingertips; it should sound hollow. Let cool to room temperature before slicing, if possible. ( NYT recipe)

 

Happy Halloween!

To wish someone a happy Halloween, you can say:

Oíche Shamhna Shona Duit (EE-hyeh HOW-nuh HUN-uh ditch*)

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Celtic Holidays, Celtic Legends, Irish Traditions

The Feast of Saint Brigid – The Patron Saint of Ireland

Ireland’s very own patron saint St. Brigid’s Feast Day is February 1st also as Imbolc.

So what is Imbolc

Imbolc or Imbolg, is a Gaelic festival that traditional marks the start of warmer days and the arrival of spring.  It also the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Saint Brigid of Kildare is Ireland’s most important female saints. Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares her name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.

saint brigid banner new site banner

Who was Saint Brigid of Kildare?

St. Brigid, also known as “Mary of the Gael”, is a patroness Saint of Ireland. Born the daughter of a powerful Irish Chieftain St. Bridget or also spelled Brigid became a nun completely devoted to relieving the misery and hardship of the poor. The traditional woven cross is said to have originated during a visit St. Bridget made to a dying Chieftain in which she wove it from rushes on the floor to show the significance of Christian faith. The woven rush cross has become synonymous with St. Bridget.

Saint Brigid is also the Patron Saint of the LAOH. The LAOH stand for THE LADIES ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish order and it was organized in The United States of America in New York City in the year of 1836.

What is the Meaning of the Saint Brigid’s Cross?

The Irish tradition of weaving a St. Brigid’s cross is one that endures to among the people of Ireland. The Irish legend of the Saint Brigid cross is tied to the saving action of Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary. Irish myth states that the St. Brigid cross wards off fire, hunger, and evil away from homes that hang it in various places. This is why St. Brigid Crosses are typical hung near house hold entrance ways.

Celtic Legends, Halloween, Irish Traditions

The Origins of Halloween Costumes

On Halloween night children would dress up in scary costumes and go house to house. ‘Help the Halloween Party’ and ‘Trick or Treat’ were the cries to be heard at each door.

This tradition of wearing costumes also dates back to Celtic times. On the special night when the living and the dead were at their closest the Celtic Druids would dress up in elaborate costumehalloween kidss to disguise themselves as spirits and devils in case they encountered other devils and spirits during the night. By disguising they hoped that they would be able to avoid being carried away at the end of the night. This explains why witches, goblins and ghosts remain the most popular choices for the costumes.

 

Read more about Celtic Halloween Traditions and Origins. Shop Irish Halloween Gifts.