Tomorrow is St. Brigid’s Day, but today, the eve, is the day traditionally that St. Brigid crosses are made. How they are made and how they are used varies by region in Ireland. I’ve talked a lot about this in The Roots of Irish Wisdom.
I admit, I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to making these crosses. The one above really should have a tighter center, but it gives you the idea if you’ve never seen one.
School children make them in Ireland. If only we had access to reeds like those growing in Ireland, the ones we make here in Ohio would be prettier.
Here’s one description of how they are made. http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/1Kids/MakingBrigdXs.html
What Does it Mean?
Legend is that Brigid wove one of these crosses while explaining Jesus’ sacrifice to dying a pagan. Rushes or reeds were spread on the floors of houses back then to provide cushion like a carpet. So, she just reached down and grabbed some and wove this as she spoke. Of course, the dying man was converted because of this.
But why weave them? Where are they hung?
Well, again, many answers. They were hung above the cottage door or the barn door to ask for protection from fire or just general protection. A new one was woven and placed there and the hold one burned, or the old was buried in the garden, or it was placed in the cattle’s trough. OR…it remained in the roof and a new one added each year, thus revealing the age of the dwelling. As I said, it varied.
What Does St. Brigid’s Day Mean?
The beginning of spring in Ireland, the beginning of lambing season, the beginning of fishing season. The day aligns with the change of season, this one in the ancient Celtic calendar was Imbolc. (Learn more here.)
But it’s also a good time to learn about St. Brigid and her lasting influence.
Other Uses of the Cross
I have one (not a real one) hanging in my car. It was a gift from a friend who is no longer with us. Some people hang them in other places in their house. Wherever it’s a reminder of this saint and her example, is good. No rules.
I have a St. Brigid’s cross necklace. I often see folks at the Irish festivals wearing them.
It’s unique shape makes it distinctive. Once you are aware of it, you may start noticing it.
I won’t have time to make a cross this eve, but I make them often with groups of people, usually with pipe cleaners because that’s an easy way to learn. Have you made a St. Brigid’s cross?