As the mornings and weather appear to be getting lighter and lighter, spring seems to be venturing forth, celebrated in the traditional Gaelic festival of ‘Imbolc’ on February 2nd.
A festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring. A time to let go of the past and to look toward the future- clearing out of the old and making both outer and inner space for the new beginnings. From spring cleaning the home, to clearing of the mind and heart, allowing inspiration to enter. Celebrations often involve special foods, divination or watching for omens- Fire and purification were an important part of the festival (fires and candles in particular), as they symbolise the increasing power of the sun over the coming months.
Equally important was water- in particular Holy Wells- visitors would pray for health while walking 'sunwise' around the well. They would leave offerings; usually coins or ‘clooties’ and the water was used to bless the home, family members, livestock and fields.
It was also traditionally a time of weather divination, - in particular watching to see if serpents or badgers came forth from their winter dens – perhaps the origin of the North American Groundhog Day tradition.
In Gaelic tradition, Imbolc was believed to be when the Cailleach—the divine hag— collected her firewood to last her the rest of the winter- If she wants to make the winter last longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can collect lots of firewood, extending Winter! It is a relief when Imbolc has bad weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.
A more modern interpretation for celebrating Imbolc is that its the perfect time for spring cleaning, as it helps to set a fresh tone for the house as spring re-emerges.
Our top tips for spring cleaning are;
• Be methodical– Clean one area/room at a time. If you try do everything all at once, you will be overwhelmed and feel like youre not getting anywhere!
• Be practical- Gather everything you need in advance, make yourself a little cleaning kit and take it round with you room by room.
• Be ruthless- De-clutter first before you clean – If you can’t see the wood for the trees then it would look any different after your spring clean. If you haven’t used or worn an item within the last year – throw it out, or better sill give it to charity.
• Be careful- It’s important not to forget that many products and medicines have an expiry date, so be sure to safely dispose of any that are past their best.