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The first of February in Ireland means St Brigid’s day, and according to an ancient tradition, it’s considered the first day of spring. Isn’t that nice?

The weather may not always agree, but there is something special about saying ”It’s spring!”, it gives a nice, happy feeling!

St Brigid’s day is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and this day in the past was referred to as Imbolg – the first day of spring and was one of four Pagan Gaelic seasonal festivals – Imbolg, Beltane (1st of May and the start of summer), Lughnasadh (1st of August and the start of autumn), and Samhain (1st of November and the start of winter). At Imbolg, people would celebrate rebirth, the return of the sun’s strength, and that they had survived the winter. People cleaned their houses to welcome Brigid, and they would feast together.

Brigid is described as the goddess of fire, poetry and healing, while other sources say she became a Christian and a saint. Other sources again say that the Christian church made her a saint to accommodate the Pagan population.

Whoever Brigid was, her day is still celebrated as the first day of spring, and there are other dates too that, according to other criteria, mark the first day of spring. I prefer St Brigid’s day, because the earlier, the better!

So is it spring now?

Yes and no. It’s still cold-ish with some very dull days, and there is still the risk of more wintery weather but we can also get nice sunny days with pleasant temperatures. Lately, we’ve had some lovely mild weather and on Thursday, we had 13-14 C (55 F). I invited my camera club friend for coffee in the garden! That was fabulous.

But spring is about so much more than warmer weather. Nature is waking up. Not all of it withers in the autumn but it sort of goes into a resting mode, and already in mid-January if the weather is mild, there is a change in the air, you can feel the scents of nature. Bulbs and buds are coming, and some shrubs are beginning to grow again. There is a change in the light too.

I love this country. One of the very best aspects of Ireland is the mild climate and short winter, and that was actually a very important reason why I wanted to live here.

A hyacinth on its way
My azalea. I wonder if it will bloom this year!
The decorative cherry tree
Our buddleias are well and happy!

Have I ever mentioned how much I adore colours? One of the most depressing aspects of winter in Sweden was the lack of colour. Even when there isn’t snow, the world is in monochrome from November to March or even early April. I found it truly awful. When we lived in Sweden we often went to Ireland for St Patrick’s day, and it seemed like a miracle to come here and see some colour!

Bush daisy in my garden, has been flowering since December
Seen while out for a walk

The gorse is a wonderful plant! It starts flowering in December and gives a wonderful splash of colour throughout the winter and until late spring.

This was on a quite cold day, but oh, how I love to see colours in January!

The thing is, if you live in northern Europe you will have to deal with winter, and if you’re not a fan of the winter it’s nice to live where it’s bearable. Irish winter can be miserable with storms and frost, but it only really lasts for 2-3 months. I can definitely live with that, and I don’t mind the change of seasons. If we had summer all the time we probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much, and if we didn’t have winter we would never experience the joy of spring! I’m like a little child in the spring – every new bud and flower is a miracle.

This morning is sunny and nice and it truly feels like spring. There are birds chirping everywhere and although it’s not particularly warm yet, the sun warms my face. What joy!

Sources


Linking with Denyse Whelan’s #Life this week and Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share.

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Comments:

  • 2nd February 2022

    I am so glad you share the differences between the countries where you have lived. In Australia, February is the last month of our summer and often a very humid and uncomfortable one. I am always glad when February is gone…and I am only just now posting this on 2 Feb!!

    Many thanks to you for linking up for Life This Week with a blog post. I look forward, I hope, to seeing you back on Mondays whenever that works for you! Denyse.

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  • 5th February 2022

    Hi Susanne, You are having a beautiful spring. Your flowers are gorgeous. You also shared a little bit of history, very cool! In northern Arizona, it’s been rather chilly, but today is sunny and beautiful. We are getting ready to go for a drive this afternoon which is always fun. I’ll have to check and see if we have any spring flowers. We live in a condo, and there are no flowers here yet. In this dry climate rife with wild animals, I grew next to nothing last summer and spring. My tomato plant on the fenced-in patio was eaten down to a nub. LOL Have a wonderful rest of your weekend. 🙂

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  • 5th February 2022

    I have those same yellow daisies growing in my garden here in Australia Susanne and very similar photos to yours too! It was really interesting reading your post, I had no idea about the history of St Brigid Day and spring’s arrival. I also didn’t know Ireland has a shorter milder winter compared to some European places. I love spring’s arrival too and seeing everything waking up as in your gorgeous photos. Enjoy the change of seasons. As Denyse comments, we are in the last month before autumn sets in and we’ve had a range of weather lately!

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  • 5th February 2022

    Hello Susanne, Ireland is one place I would love to visit. I’ve visited many countries and we had a driving holiday planned for the UK and Ireland in 2019 but of course COVID stopped that. Your photography is beautiful and Spring is also my favourite time of year, although I am partial to the Autumn colours probably because they have glorious colours and I don’t see them where I live. Our Autumn starts on 1st March however, where I live on the Gold Coast Autumn and Winter are very mild. Thank you for explaining about the St Brigid tradition which I haven’t heard of before. I enjoy learning about traditions from other countries. Enjoy your week and chat soon. xx

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  • 5th February 2022

    Hi Susanne,
    I love your close-up photographs.
    photos like these always allow us to see things that are rarely otherwise visible.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  • 5th February 2022

    Hi, Suzanne – Mild climate and short winters describes Vancouver Island as well (although it is only 8C today which is typical for early February. We wouldn’t usually get much higher temps this time of year.).
    Your photos are beautiful – I love the details that you camera captures!!

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  • 5th February 2022

    Hi Susanne, Nature is amazing. We’re half way through winter and there are subtle changes in plants when we pay attention. You’ve captured some of the ‘new beginnings’ in your beautiful photos. I hope the mild weather continues for you next week. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

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  • 6th February 2022

    It is getting there. Very nice. #weekendcoffeeshare

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  • 6th February 2022

    Looking at all of the ice around here, I am hoping for Spring to arrive on these shores soon 😉 I do think it is interesting how the seasons were once staggered from how they are now, at least in Celtic society. In ways it makes sense, more in the Ireland and Britain than in New Hampshire, but still.. Like harvest is from August to November, not running through late December like our seasons. Same with the new animals and sowing and such is well over by May and and June. Anyway, Happy Spring – have a wonderful week.

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  • 6th February 2022

    Looks like there are signs of spring. I grew up in Scotland, Edinburgh to be precise, and also lived in Glasgow. Both cities are about the same latitude as Copenhagen, but the winters there were longer and colder and I used to get really miserable to see photos of signs of spring back in Scotland when there was still snow in Denmark – all thanks as you say to the Gulf Stream.

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  • 7th February 2022

    Hi Susanne – lovely to see all the flowers and those rolling green hills – I can certainly see why this type of scenery would appeal after living somewhere with several months of white and grey landscapes to deal with. Our Aussie winters are very mild compared to Europe and there is always something blooming through the seasons.

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  • 7th February 2022

    I do miss snowdrops and crocuses, but as you probably saw, there are compensations here. Do you have Irish ancestry or a connection to Ireland? It’s an unusual choice from Sweden. Nice to meet you anyway.

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  • 10th February 2022

    What a fascinating story about St. Brigid. My husband has been to Ireland and LOVED it. I’m not sure which part. It was when he was in college and a singing group he was with did a ministry trip there.

    I love all those flowers. So pretty. I’m excited to see flowers blooming. I want to plant some more but we are trying to finish a house project and so we have sorely neglected doing any landscaping.

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  • 10th February 2022

    What lovely pictures!
    I live in Eastern Canada and this winter has been…not fun. Lots of ice and snow and cold, cold temperatures. When we have a hard winter I want snow, lots of it, and then cold weather so we can get outside skiing or sledding. But lately it has just been wet and cold and icy. Oh well. This too shall pass and we’re always rewarded with lovely summers and autumns here.
    I guess that is one blessing of living in a very seasonally diverse climate – knowing that it’s temporary makes everything feel tolerable. A month from now the worst (should!) be behind us and I have never been more excited to see sunshine and beautiful flowers poking through the ground.

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  • 11th February 2022

    Such beautiful pictures! Happy Spring!

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  • 12th February 2022

    It sure is very green and the budding flowers are colourful. I hope spring brings you much happiness.

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  • 15th February 2022

    How I long to visit Ireland and Scotland and England. Hopefully, someday. I like winter and snow but a small dose would be just fine with me. We don’t have a lot of winter precipitation but we do have fairly cold temps for about 3 months. I would love to be seeing signs of spring around here already. We did have a 70* afternoon today which was delightful but things are not budding yet and our grass is brown and dry. Thank you for sharing the signs of spring you are enjoying.

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  • 16th February 2022

    These pictures give me hope that spring will be coming soon… even though, here, we can have snow up through the end of April. I always think about moving to the Pacific Northwest, or northern CA, but don’t know if I could make the approach to life there work for me. I admire you so much for taking the plunge and relocating to an entirely new country (albeit one you were quite familiar with…).

    The vivid green in the picture of the rolling hills makes me wish that we had something similar here. Farmland and bluff country are beautiful but there is something about rolling hills that always draws me in.

    Thank you for sharing the story of St. Brigid’s day, and the other Pagan holidays. I have always wondered how they are spaced throughout the year and this makes perfect sense! You really do learn something new every day. 🙂

    Take care… and thanks for sending a bit of spring color our way. <3

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      • 20th February 2022

        Oh, you are right, the Appalachians are beautiful – and the Smokies in particular. That series sounds like so much fun – particularly for you!

        Anyway, the reason I will never move to TN is the politics (welcome to the US…). So, while I love the geography and the beauty? The state and local governments are a huge drawback for me. 🙁 (I actually have a mental map of “places I will never move until they significantly change their state and local government alignment”… which is pretty sad, when you think of it. On the other hand, you do know what we experienced from 2016-2020… so perhaps my wariness is not misplaced.)
        I also love New England but not sure where I would work that is not a big city – there are many more “college towns” in the Midwest and Western parts of the country.

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