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02/08/2021

WATCH: How to make a St Brigid's Cross

St Brigid's Day marks the first day of spring

Tonight is St Brigid's Eve, when it is traditional to leave a cloth or a scarf outside to be blessed by the St Brigid. The cloth is known as Bratóg Bhríde (Brigid's cloak, blanket, flag, rag). 

Bratóg Bhríde in Burt

St Brigid's feast day is February 1 (tomorrow), which is also known as the first day as spring.

It is believed St Brigid (451-525), one of Ireland's patron saints, travels around the country tonight and touches na bratóga, endowing them with healing powers. Some say the healing powers are strongest after seven years. In Irish folklore, this special garment can then be used as a cure for headaches or sore throats.

Today is also the day people make St Brigid's Crosses. Usually made from rushes, the crosses are usually hung by doors to protect homes from fire and evil. 

Designed by St Brigid, tradition has it she was visiting an old pagan chieftain who was enduring his last moments on his deathbed. The servants had called upon Brigid to soothe and calm him, and some versions even describe him as her father.

Brigid sat beside him, talking to him, while picking up rushes from the floor - a common material of Irish homes back then - and then weaving them by hand into a cross. The chieftain noticed the cross and asked her about the cross.

As she weaved, St Brigid explained what the cross meant, and it captivated the chieftain so much, he willingly converted to Christianity and got baptized right before he died.

Unfortunately, there will be no public gathering of people making St Brigid's Crosses this year, due to the Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions, which are currently in place. However, many families are likely to carry on the tradition in their own homes. There is still time to get out and collect the rushes and make a St Brigid's Cross tonight.

Here is a little video, which shows how to make St Brigid's Crosses.

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