In Ireland they will tell you today is the feast of Saint Brigid (she of distant-and-recent goddesshood) and fires should be lit to celebrate that we have made it past the midpoint of winter. Tomorrow in the United States (where I am writing this article) it is Groundhog Day, and the shadow of an overlarge rodent offers a prediction about the length of the remaining cold season. The U.S. has Ireland to thank for a sizeable portion of its modern citizens, so it is with much regret that I contrast our cross-quarter emblem of the groundhog to that of the fiery goddess. While the cultural differences are significant, it remains true that we in the U.S., as well as our ancestors from Ireland and other fair lands, viewed this time from now until spring-proper as a chance to begin spring cleaning, preparing for the busy time of planting ahead both physically and spiritually. Here are three steps to take to get ready for the coming of spring:
1. Spring cleaning might have arisen from wanting things to be clean and fresh, just as new, fresh lambs and other baby animals were being born in the fields. Snowdrops, too, one of the first flowers to appear each year, are popping up at this time. It is also likely that now would have been a good time to get the house in order before the tiring act of planting crops took all the energy out of you. For those of us living a more urban life, this is a good time to get back into the habit of cleaning up (now that all the mainstream holidays and celebrations are past) and recommit to any resolutions we made.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by just how much cleaning you have ahead of you? The Spruce has an excellent 30 day cleaning breakdown for you. At the same time you’re cleaning your home, be sure to renew your house blessings and, if at all possible, make your own supplies or support a Pagan artisan (such as the wonderful Vodou Store) rather than a big box store.
2. Those of us who have a large amount of Christian, Muslim, or Jewish family members may have felt too tired from all their winter family obligations to really dedicate the time they should to their spiritual practices, so for them (us…guilty as charged over here), take this time to undergo a spiritual purification in alignment with your practices. Rededicate yourself to your gods and spirits, and lay out fresh offerings on cleaned shrines. If you’re worried about pets or pests desecrating your indoor offerings, consider writing a poem or laying out an incense offering (such as the wonderful blends offered by The Hellenic Handmaid) on the household shrines.
3. You might think that you’ve spent enough time with people over the past couple months, but large parties are very different than small get-togethers with friends. Invite a few of your best ones over to share your goals for the year ahead, encourage one another, and eat some of the simple, filling food our ancestors would have enjoyed during this time of the year. We recommend braided egg bread (there’s a great recipe over at All Recipes) with herbed butter (Food52 has a great selection of spring-themed butters), and of course don’t forget some fresh milk (of any variety) to wash it all down.
What do you do to prepare for spring? Are there any family traditions you follow, or new ones you’re starting this year? Let us know!
[Ashley Nicole Hunter sits on the board of directors for Bibliotheca Alexandrina and has been published in a few reputable (and otherwise) publications.]