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The Celtic Year

Praying through the Celtic year - Imbolc



Imbolc most commonly is celebrated on February 2nd, since this is the cross-quarter day on the solar calendar, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere. Among agrarian peoples, Imbolc has been traditionally associated with the onset of lactation of ewes, soon to give birth to the spring lambs. The Christian Church of course sought to introduce an alternative festival and so the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus, and falls on or around February 2nd.

In the modern Irish Calendar, Imbolc is variously known as the Feast of Saint Brigid (Secondary Patron of Ireland), Lá Fhéile Bríde, and Lá Feabhra — the first day of Spring. Christians may call the day "Candlemas" or "the feast of the Purification of the Virgin.

One folk tradition that continues in certain places on St. Brigid's Day (or Imbolc) is that of the Brigid's Bed. The girls and young, unmarried women of the household or village create a corn dolly to represent Brigid, called the Brideog ("little Brigid" or "young Brigid"), adorning it with ribbons and baubles like shells or stones. They make a bed for the Brideog to lie in. On St. Brigid's Eve (January 31), the girls and young women gather together in one house to stay up all night with the Brideog, and are later visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home, and then treat them and the corn dolly with respect.

(source: Wikipedia)

nb. This has been written with the hope that it might be appropriate both for Christian groups to use, and also as a means of reaching out to those on the fringes, those who seeking after spiritual fulfilment but attracted more to the ancient pagan rituals and customs of this time of year. Please give me some feedback so that this liturgy might be refined over time.


celtic preayers A Christian liturgy for Imbolc

Let's just spend a moment or two in quietness. Consider the winter that is drawing to a close, the bareness of trees awaiting spring's warmth, the first snowdrops to emerge and flower, fallen leaves from winter that now are taken up once again by the soil as a source of nutrients (nature's endless cycle of life and death), signs of life within our own gardens as plants that seemed dead just a month ago are now beginning to show green.


A. the promise of new life

A. the potential for growth

A. the hope of harvests to come




‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
(Jer 5:24)


'Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.'
(Albert Laighton)


'The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.'
(Bern Williams)



In the lengthening of days,
Snowdrops emerging
from winter's frozen ground

In the sight of a tiny lamb,
joyfully bounding
across hillside farm

Creator God, forgive our moments of ingratitude,
the spiritual blindness that prevents us
from appreciating the wonder that is this world,
the endless cycle of nature,
of life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving,
reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see,
our lips to praise,
our hands to share,
and may our feet tread lightly on the road ahead.


(Here a song, chant or hymn might be sung)


Psalm 8

3 When I consider your heavens,the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!


A sleeping world emerges to new possibilities,
weakening winter's icy grip,
and birdsong and bleating lamb
announce to all the promise
that in due season
creation bursts into life.
And whilst leaves that fell in winter
lie upon the ground,
soon to feed the earth
in nature's wondrous cycle
of death and rebirth,
within the tree is a stirring of new growth


For the cycle of life
Which brings death and rebirth
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For lengthening days
And sunlight's warmth upon the soil
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For a snowdrop's beauty
Reflecting its Creator's artistry
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For new born lambs
Their joy and exuberance
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For all of creation
And the majesty of its Creator
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring



'Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.'
(Geoffrey B. Charlesworth)

The seasons are what a symphony ought to be: four perfect movements in harmony with each other.
(Arthur Rubenstein)



This is your garden, Creator God
a thing of beauty
beyond understanding,
a poem that is being written
not in words,
but in colours,
wind's whisper,
soaring bird,
snowdrop's petal,
gentle rain,
sunlight's warmth.
This is your garden, Creator God,
a thing of beauty
beyond understanding


(A time of intercession might be appropriate at this point, either silent or aloud, praying for areas of the world where humankind is not in harmony with creation, places of war, famine or exploitation of the world's resources)

Together we say

We bless you,
God of Seed and Harvest
And we bless each other
That the beauty of this world
And the love that created it
Might be expressed though our lives
And be a blessing to others
Now and always




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