It's almost time for Imbolg (more commonly called Imbolc and also known as February Eve), the 1st sabbat of the new calendar year, and the 2nd/3rd on the Wheel of the Year. As I mentioned in my Celebrating Yule/Christmas post, some people think of the year as beginning and ending at Samhain (Hallowe'en), so they consider Samhain as the New Year, while others count Yule as New Year.
Note: for those in the Southern Hemipshere it's Lammas time! Check out these posts for celebration ideas:
Imbolg is celebrated on 2nd February (Saturday this year), or from the night of 1st Feb to the night of the 2nd (sundown to sundown). Or some people would celebrate from 31st January to 1st February, which is why it's also called February Eve. If you go by the scientific time, Marietta of Witchy Words mentions it's at
Imbolg is also known as Candlemas, although that is more of a Christian festival based on the pagan ones. It's the first spring festival and marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It's also a fire festival and the feast of Bride or Brigid (pronounced something like "Breed") the Irish Fire Goddess, who became Christianised as Saint Brigid. The Irish Gaelic word "Imbolc" or "Imbolg" is thought to translate as "in the belly" meaning the ewes who are pregnant at this time of year. There is another word "Oimelc" which is said to mean "ewe's milk". Imbolg is a cross-quarter day, meaning that it's in between a solstice and equinox. It's between Yule aka the Winter Solstice and Oestara/Ostara aka the Spring Equinox in March.
In North America Groundhog Day is celebrated in 2nd February. (I probably first heard of this because of the popular film with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell!). It's based on the belief that if a groundhog comes out of its burrow on this day and sees its shadow, winter will continue for 6 more weeks but if it doesn't see a shadow then spring will arrive early. (From what I gather it's because cloudy days are warmer). This superstition is based on traditions in Europe where people would watch animals such as hedgehogs or badgers to predict the weather for the season ahead, and is said to have come to America with the Pennsylvania Dutch who arrived from Germany.
For more on Groundhog Day visit these links:
Last year I did a post on celebration ideas, and this year I thought I'd do another with more Imbolg inspiration. :)
First up here are some posts about Imbolg/Imbolc:
http://www.witchywords.com/2019/01/february-eve-imbolc-february-3rd-2019.html (Now a private blog).
This is a good post on preparing for Imbolg: https://www.vegankitchenmagick.com/preparing-for-imbolc/
Now here are some ideas for celebrating:
My post from last year: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/01/imbolg-celebration-ideas.html
I like the idea in Michaela from Penniless Pagan's post (2nd link) about tossing your cares away by throwing a rock into a stream. When I went to the beach a few weeks ago I did the exercise "Throwing Stones" from Amy B. Scher's book How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can, where you think about your problems and then throw them away with stones into water. And taking a ritual soak is a good idea as well.
Making a Brigid's straw doll (Brideog) or Brigid's cross is mentioned in both the Mumbles and Things (4th link) and The Green Parent (5th link) posts. I've never tried this but it seems like a fun thing to do if you're crafty. :)
Update 28/1/19: Here's a post from Tess Whitehurst about 5 types of magic to work on Imbolc: https://tesswhitehurst.com/5-types-of-magic-to-work-on-imbolc/
She mentions shadow work (No. 4) which is interesting because it's most commonly associated with Samhain, during the "dark" time of year. It makes sense to also do some shadow work at Imbolg though because although the days are growing lighter, we're still currently in the winter season.
More ways to celebrate:
Light a candle- Since Imbolg is a fire festival it's a great time to light candles. White and "spring" colours such as pale green, yellow and light blue are good choices but it's up to you. :) If you've got any partly burnt candles, Imbolg is a good time to use them up.
Baking- Eggs and milk are associated with the goddess Brigid, and also eggs and milk fit the "coming spring" theme, so if you like baking it fits this sabbat. I normally bake for Lammas and Madron in particular and not so much for Imbolg, but last year I made some soda bread using a recipe from The Kitchen Witch by Soraya. There's a recipe for a spicy loaf cake in the book and you can find an adapted version online in this article (I haven't made it but may in future): https://thewillowweb.com/2016/01/27/5-small-ways-to-celebrate-imbolc/
Poppyseed cake is a traditional recipe too. I've never made it but this recipe looks good: https://greenquakers.wordpress.com/tag/poppyseed-cake/
Make pancakes- I do this every year, I was inspired by Kate West's book The Real Wicthes' Kitchen. I've made English pancakes (also known as crepes) most often, but some years I have American ones instead. Pancake Day isn't usually that long after Imbolg but it's late this year (not till 5th March), since the date changes depending when Easter Sunday is. For Imbolg 2018 I tried a recipe from BBC Good Food and really liked it. I used it again for Pancake Day last year.
Make some other food and drink- I made potato and leek soup last year, using another recipe from The Kitchen Witch. I also like to have some kind of sparkling lemonade drink (bought not made though). Hot milky drinks are good too. For more winter drinks ideas visit this post from last year: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/01/winter-drinks.html
Check out last year's post for more on making food and drink: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/01/imbolg-celebration-ideas.html
Cleanse/purify- Imblog is also about cleansing and purifying and is a good time to make a start on spring cleaning. I've been doing physical tidying in my house lately and also digital tidying, of my emails and Pinterest boards. (Although it's not about Imbolg, I was inspired to go through them after reading this post from She Sweats Diamonds: http://www.shesweatsdiamonds.com/have-your-life-together-organize-your-busy-life/
Hope that gave you some good ideas! :) I'm looking forward to spring, although it will still be winter for a while yet. I've seen a few daffodils already like last year, but if it gets really cold then I expect they'll die off. One of the suggestions in last year's post was to look for signs of spring.
The weather was quite mild over Christmas here in the UK and then after New Year and in the first few weeks of January, it went colder. When I started writing this we hadn't had much snow here, but there's since been some in some parts of the UK. There's been none in Sussex recently as far as I'm aware and none in my town, but I said that this time last year and then we ended up having more than usual during February and March! The coldest temperatures in my area have been about 3 degrees Celsius (37F) to 5C in the day and -4 at night in Sussex. It's warmer today at 6C (43F). I'm not a fan of winter weather, but I've heard that it's been really cold in some places (such as North America) and I'm grateful to be living here!
It seems weird that we're already in the end of January! I do find this quite a hard month after Christmas and New Year because all the celebration is over, but it's dreary and cold. It's good to have the sabbats to celebrate. I think we should have more year round seasonal festivals in general society! Especially at this time of year. There is Valentine's Day next month but that can be depressing if you're not in a relationship, lol. If you'd like some winter inspiration, check out this post: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/12/winter-round-up-inspiration.html
I also liked this post from Eterrnally Elle about surviving the January blues in style (using fashion tips, but good still even if you're not really fashionable!): https://www.eternallyelle.com/2019/01/how-to-survive-the-january-blues-in-style/
I'll do a post about my celebrations probably next week, although I'm also planning to start doing monthly updates, so I expect I'll post the January one first, then the Imbolg post. Happy Imbolg for next weekend! (Or Lammas if you're celebrating that). :)
Photo: Buckingham Park, Shoreham-by-sea. Moonsparke 2019.