Imbolc or Imbolg also called (Saint) Brigid’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Bríde, Scottish Gaelic: Là Fhèill Brìghde, Manx: Laa’l Breeshey), is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. It is held on 1 February in the northern hemisphere or 1 August in the Southern Hemisphere. It lands about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. For Christians, especially in Ireland, it is the feast day of Saint Brigid.
Imbolc is mentioned in early Irish literature, and there is evidence suggesting it was also an important date in ancient times. It is believed that Imbolc was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid, and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brigid, who is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess. On Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day, Brigid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brigid (a Brídeóg) would be paraded from house-to-house by girls, sometimes accompanied by ‘strawboys’. Brigid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, and items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brigid was also invoked to protect homes and livestock. Special feasts were had, holy wells were visited, and it was a time for divination.