Imbolc and the First Signs of Spring

snowdrops_Galanthus nivalis
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) in my garden. Spring and imbolc begins 

Imbolc is a Celtic festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly celebrated on 1 or 2 February (or 12 February, according to the Old Calendar) in the northern hemisphere and 1 August in the southern hemisphere. These dates fall halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Imbolc is usually celebrated when the first stirrings of spring are felt, or on the full moon that falls closest to this time.

Imbolc Traditions

The holiday was, and for many still is, a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring.

Celebrations often involved hearth fires, special foods (butter, milk, and bannocks, for example), divination or watching for omens, candles or a bonfire if the weather permits.

Weather Prognostication

Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather prognostication, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to the North American Groundhog Day.

Imbolc Dates

1 February, northern hemisphere
1 August, southern hemisphere
Related to: Candlemas, Groundhog Day

Observed by: Gaels (Irish, Scottish and Manx people), Neopagans (Celtic Reconstructionists, Neo-Druids and Wiccans)

More Natural Calendar Information

Algonquin American Indian Moon Names (with video)

Using the Pleiades as a Natural Calendar (with video)

Phenology is Deep Ecology

What signs of spring have sprung in your neighborhood?


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