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An Irish Holiday in February

by Ward Gahan
1 Comment(s)
An Irish Holiday in February

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a risk taker.  My wife definitely isn’t as she grew up the daughter of an insurance salesman who made his career on convincing people to prepare for the worst.  A year ago we moved houses and started on a new adventure. We packed up some of our belongings into a storage unit but the one thing we brought with us for the move was our St. Brigid’s Cross that had been hanging over the front door of our home for all those years.


The Brigid’s Cross is typically hung over a doorway entrance to protect all those who enter.  Farmers used to hang it over the barn door to protect the animals. It’s a beautiful Irish symbol originally configured and shaped from dried reeds or rushes.  


The lore states that Brigid was called to the deathbed of a local unbaptized man.  He was inconsolable so she sat at his bedside and picked the rushes off the floor and crafted them into a cross.  When he asked what she was doing, she explained the points on the cross.  As she spoke, he was calmed by her words and agreed to be baptized before dying.  The cross has become a symbol for St Brigid, one of only three patron saints of Ireland.  She is the patron saint of many things including poetry, learning, and livestock but most widely known for being a protector against all harm.


My mother’s name was Brigid Murphy (aka Biddy) so I grew up hearing the story of St Brigid.  My mother was a protector of sorts as well.  She protected me from doing many stupid things as a young boy growing up in rural Ireland!  


Over the 18 years of owning Biddy Murphy, the Brigid’s Cross has been one of our best selling symbols.  Brigid’s Cross necklaces have become a popular gift for many life events:  a graduation gift as children move on to the next phase of their lives or a special gift for someone dealing with a dire diagnosis.  There are also wall hangings in various forms - reed crosses similar to the original design or pewter modern crosses or lovely bronzed wall hangings.  While there are many beautiful Irish symbols, the Brigid Cross is a best seller right up there with the Claddagh and the Trinity Cross.


In a year when we’ve all needed protection of some sorts, the Brigid Cross traversed many miles with us.  From our home in Michigan, to London, Co Dublin, Co Cork, and now once again safely back here in the US.  And a bit more luggage!  


As Ireland lifted all of their COVID restrictions yesterday, I’m sure there are many people giving thanks to St Brigid for making it through a difficult storm. St Brigid’s feast day is right around the corner on February 1st so it will be a good day to celebrate. 

Perhaps we should have a Brigid’s Day parade and commemorate her a bit more like we do St Patrick!?  We could all use another reason to celebrate!

Ward

by Ward Gahan

POST COMMENTS

Sarah Gustafson
Sarah Gustafson

A great story. My family has celebrated St. Brigid’s Day for many years. We celebrate with light, mostly candles and feasting and thankfulness for keeping us safe through the year. We use the occasion to mark the milestones or moments of gratitude we’ve experienced through the past year, written in a book, to review the following year. We also fashion St. Brigid’s crosses. Though this year I bought each of my children one of your lovely large straw crosses for their doorways.
Thank you!

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