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Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Cynthia Owens

Everyone – even if they’re not Irish – is  familiar with St. Patrick’s Day. It’s practically impossible to miss, with its shamrocks, green beer, and the plethora of stuffed leprechauns every March 17th. Fewer people, though, are familiar with the Feast of St. Brigid.

The Feast of St. Brigid marks the beginning of the spring planting season in Ireland. It’s believed that St. Brigid traveled around the Irish countryside on the eve of her feast day, blessing the people, their livestock, and their fields. Traditionally, St. Brigid’s Day is celebrated February 1st. 

On St. Brigid’s Eve, families placed a cake or pieces of bread and butter on the windowsill or doorstep to welcome her. Often the bread would be an oatmeal loaf, in the shape of a cross, specially baked for the occasion. Sometimes they placed a sheaf of corn beside it as refreshment for her favorite white cow, which accompanied her.

St. Brigid’s crosses, fashioned from reeds and rushes, were hung over house doors, as well as strips of cloth or ribbon, called St. Brigid’s Mantle. It was said that if St. Brigid touched these cloths, they would have curative powers.

Groups of young people, called Bridie Boys, went from house to house, carrying an effigy of the lady saint. They would entertain with a few songs and maybe a dance, and receive candy, cookies, and sometimes, a few shillings.

And at each door they came to, they’d chant this rhyme:

“Something for poor Biddy;
Her clothes are torn,
Her shoes are worn.
Something for poor Biddy.”


Anita Clenney said...

I hadn't heard of St. Brigid. What an interesting story. Thanks for sharing.

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Anita, glad you enjoyed the post. I love digging into history, and Ireland has such a colorful one! Thanks for stopping by!

Renee Vincent said...

I have a St. Brigid cross hanging in my writing room next to my picture/map of Inis Mór and my castle pics! I love to tell her story to my children.
Great post, Cynthia!

Cynthia Owens said...

Thanks, Renee! Your "writing room" sounds a lot like my "creative corner," which is covered with pictures of Ireland and knick knacks from Ireland. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for visiting!

Maeve Greyson said...

Great post, Cynthia! I've got a St. Brigid's cross hanging in my kitchen to watch over us.

Cynthia Owens said...

Glad you enjhjoyed the post, Maeve. We could all do with a guardian angel, couldn't we? Thanks for stopping by!

Cynthia Owens said...

I'd like to thank everyone at LASR for allowing me this week of spotlight blogs. I had a wonderful time, and hope everyone else did, too. Thanks to everyone!