St Brigid’s Crosses

St Brigid’s Crosses are small hand-crafted crosses made from reeds or rushes (or sometimes straw) which are put up in houses on 1st February to mark the beginning of Spring. They have a distinct design with a woven square centre and four radials. Similar to many Irish religious-cultural traditions, they are a mix of Christian and Pagan, with St Brigid’s feast day coinciding with the Celtic feast of Imbolc and the design seeming to blend the Christian cross with Celtic themes. The cross is put over the door or in a place of significance in a house or farm shed. It is supposed to bring protection and is particularly associated with preventing fires.

A St Brigid's Cross placed in the shrine at St Brigid's Well, Liscannor, Clare

A St Brigid’s Cross placed in the shrine at St Brigid’s Well, Liscannor, Clare

These crosses are very simple, yet beautiful objects. They are handmade every year – part of the tradition requires that the cross is replace annually, with the old ones being burned – in a continuing tradition, the result of centuries of belief and lore. They bring together the natural world, spiritual-religious beliefs, vernacular culture and the importance of the homestead.

For more:

Further reading of St Birgid’s Cross: St Brigid.ie orKildare.ie

How to make your own: iCatholic (video) or Irish Peatland Conservation Council

My own posts on St Brigid’s Well, Liscannor, Co. Clare

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