Spring has Sprung (In Ireland Anyway!)

DaffodilsYesterday was the 1st of February.  Not exactly an important date around the globe, but here in Ireland it marked the first day of Spring.

It was only very recently that I found out that Ireland is the only country in which Spring begins in February! I made the discovery while working as a teacher for children who had English as an Additional Language.  Most of these children were born in Ireland, but their families hailed from many countries across the globe.

While teaching months and season, the children were quick to ‘correct’ me!  They thought it was hilarious that, in their eyes, the teacher didn’t know the months of each season.  It happened enough times that I went online to check and lo-and-behold discovered this:

“In terms of complete months, in most North Temperate Zone locations, spring months are March, April and May… …In Ireland spring traditionally starts on 1 February, St Brigid’s Day.”  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_(season)]

The Celtic/Gaelic Calendar

It would seem that Ireland’s traditions are firmly rooted in the ancient Celtic calendar.  There are eight highlights of this calendar: Yule (Winter Solstice), Litha (Summer Solstice), Ostara (Spring Equinox), Mabon (Autum Equinox) and the four ‘quarter-days’ Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain (marking the points between the Solstices and the Equinoxes).

Celtic Wheel Calendar

St Brigid’s Day/Imbolc

St Brigid’s Day (or Imbolc) marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.   It is an Irish festival celebrating the beginning of spring and the returning of the light.  Children in primary schools all over the country make St Brigid’s crosses out of reeds or rushes.  According to tradition, a new cross should be made for the household each year.

Here is an Irish Traditional Blessing that honours St. Brigid’s Day:

“May Brigid bless the house where you dwell, 
every fireside door and every wall;
every heart that beats beneath its roof,
every hand that toils to bring it joy, 
every foot that walks its portals through. 
may Brigid bless the house that shelters you.”

More Information

I have only scratched the surface, but if you would like to know more, I have come across some interesting sites that go into greater detail!

The Real Celtic Spring: The Festival of St Brigid

The Light Returns…Imbolc

The Festival of Imbolc and St Brigid

The Religious Foundation of Groundhog Day

How to make a St Brigid’s Cross

17 responses to “Spring has Sprung (In Ireland Anyway!)

  1. Huh. This is interesting. Seems that spring started here in North Carolina in January this year. Who knew? In all seriousness, though, thanks for the info about Ireland.

  2. That’s pretty interesting! Happy Spring then! We apparently have 6 more weeks of winter thanks to some shadow that a groundhog just saw this morning. In Montana, it might even be longer than that. *sigh*

  3. Over here in Finland spring definitely doesn’t start in February as Feb is usually the coldest/snowiest month. But then again, we only have two seasons: snow and almost snow. SIGH. No sign of flowers here, everything is hidden under a THICK blanket of snow.

    • While spring officially starts on 1 Feb here, we often have our coldest weather in Feb too!

      I’ll let you in on a little secret too! Those daffodils were in a greenhouse in the National Botanic Gardens!

  4. Wow! That does explain the old Celtic calender. What a beautiful spring your having. Okay, now back to the doom and gloom gray, bleak, stark winter here… LOL

    Love your blog!

    The Collies and Chuck 🙂

  5. Very interesting. I don´t have an excuse. Living in Ireland almost for three years now and only this year I found out that Spring begins in February. I just imagined that it was like other places. In my country (Spain), starts the 20th March.
    I cann´t imagine August and not being summer, haha.

  6. I’ve learn’t something new that I didn’t know. Our summer has had some really hot days this year. We had a few days last week that was in the low 30’s, too hot for me. I’m looking forward to Autumn. I don’t really like freezing cold weather but I don’t like it too hot either. Autumn & Spring are my favourite times of year.

    • Here in Ireland, there is no weather guarantee at any time of the year. We have been known to go through all four seasons in the one day! I have seen hail and snow as late as June!! And Christmas day this year was 15 degrees Celcius, which was actually warmer than many of the days we had last summer. Safest option is to wear layers and always carry an umbrella! 🙂

  7. We’ve had a mild winter for us…and I’m not complaining. Feb. 1 would be a great date for the 1st day of spring! thanks for the visit & “like”…

  8. That’s very interesting. I almost never pay attention to calendar dates for seasons, though. As far as I am concerned, if the flowers are beginning to bloom, the plants are peeking through the soil and the little critters (bees, wasps, ants etc) are beginning to stir, then it is spring regardless of what the calendar says. And if these things have yet to begin then it is still winter, no matter what the month.

    • You are quite right really! I suppose the seasons are highlighted for me because I am a teacher of young children!

      We generally have mild weather in Ireland (in comparison to a lot of other places), so we would often have daffodils and snowdrops creeping out as early as February!

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