Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Welcome to February!

What is today??  
Imbolc (also Imbolg or Oimelc): an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly celebrated on February 1 or 2 (or February 12, according to the Julian Calendar or 'old' calendar), it falls halfway between the Winter Solstice (Dec 21) and the Spring Equinox (March 20/21).  

Imbolc  means "in the belly" indicating the pregnancy of the ewes and usually marked the beginning of lactation. It was a sign that the ewes would soon give birth to the spring lambs. A major importance for survival.

This date, (Feb 2) also known as Candlemas was at one time the day that the Chandlers dipped and or made the candles to be used for the upcoming year.

Imbolc recognizes the lengthening days and early signs of spring.  The celebrations traditionally included special foods  (bannocks, sheeps milk cheese, butter & mutton) and weather predictions.
Bonfires were lit in celebration of the coming spring and the old tradition of watching for animals to appear from their winter dens. Could this be where we get our Ground Hog Day?

Imbolc is the day the Cailleach, (a hag in Gaelic tradition) gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Lore says that if winter is to continue , the weather on this day is beautiful & sunny, (so the hag can gather plenty of firewood), but if  Imbolc is a day of bad or foul weather, (cloudy, cold and wet) it means the hag is still asleep and winter is near over.  People always wished for a foul weather day on this day!

SO what are your plans for this day of spring beginnings? How's YOUR weather? If it's cloudy and wet, CELEBRATE!!
The Farmers Almanac says there are 47 days left until spring.
Are you planting seeds yet??
Tomorrow, get your wax, your molds and you wicks ready and make some candles!
Plant some seeds!
Make some Bannocks and spread them with butter! Spring is springing!! (really, it is even though you might be able to see it, it IS!)

Bannock Bread Recipe:
    1 cup white flour 
    (can mix 1/2-1/2 with wheat, oats, corn or any choice of flour)
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tablespoon butter or margarine
    1/3 cup or more cold water
Mix dry ingredients thoroughly then cut in butter. Add enough water to make a thick dough. Form into thick cakes and place in the bottom of a greased cast iron frying pan. Cook on low/medium heat until done on both sides. For a change of pace add raisins, blueberries, dates, prunes, etc. Or even a spice or two like cinnamon or cloves. Serve with molasses and/or butter.  
You can deep fry this bread, or choose to bake it in the oven. You choose, make your own tradition. Enjoy it! 
(don't want to make bannock?? Substitute pita, tortillas or even pancakes!)

See ya next time......down on the farm! Sage

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