Saint Brigid and Her Feast

Mixed and baked two loaves of my Never-Been-to-Maine Pumpkin Bread (recipe coming later this week–you’re gonna love it!)

Gave one loaf to an old schoolmate just diagnosed with cancer :(

Researching and writing The Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare was one of the most rewarding writing experiences I’ve had yet. Not only did I enjoy getting to know fifth century Ireland, learning about the foods and habits of people of that time and about the budding days of Christianity where the people were so receptive to Christ’s love–but I absolutely came to admire this young girl named Brigid–this open-hearted daughter of a slave, who loved man and beast, rich and poor, and who always held Christ foremost in her heart.

Celebrating her feast day each year has enriched our lives and brought about some good and healthy family fun, plus a lot of introspection….So much of celebrating Saint Brigid happens on the eve of her feast day–January 31st… and yesterday being that day, I’d like to share with you some of what went on.

First, I read the story of Saint Brigid to our little one early in the day. We cuddled and he asked questions, and that set the tone for all that happened afterward. In the late afternoon, we baked, making pumpkin bread to share, and Saint Brigid oatcakes for our meal, placing a portion for her on the windowsill.

For our evening meal we ate roasted chicken (fifth century folk did a lot of roasting on feast days) and made colcannon, a traditional potato, leek, cabbage mixture. There were the Saint Brigid oatcakes, too, along with honey butter and jams. I had a few sips of ale too, which made me feel especially Irish.

And after dinner we washed up, then prepared the table for making crosses. John Ronan and I broke the seed heads off the stalks, we soaked the stalks in warm water for about an hour, then brought everyone to the table and started weaving. Morgan, our favorite neighbor friend joined us. She wanted me to make sure I mentioned how she was part of the cross weaving gang!

I was the weaving manager, giving lessons round the table. My husband and daughter are especially proficient, making better crosses than I can, but the two boys struggled. Andrew threw several wheat shafts up into the air after an attempt or two, and John Ronan, using pipe cleaners, still fumbled and didn’t quite get the gist of it. Morgan, a perfectionist at times, also spent a bit of time moaning about her non-cooperative fingers. But we didn’t give up! Aid arrived, and everyone ended up making something that resembled a cross. John Ronan was so proud of his creation that we immediately hung it over his bed. Love the way little people think with their hearts…

So on this beautiful day of the feast of Saint Brigid, I leave you with this prayer of hers that I love…

O God, bless my pantry!

Pantry which the Lord has blessed.

Mary’s Son, my friend,

come and bless my pantry!

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13 thoughts on “Saint Brigid and Her Feast

  1. Thanks for sharing your gifts Jane. I love it. I probably would have been a little like Andrew and easily frustrated because my fingers were not moving weaving the cross.

    The oatcakes look hearty. Were they like scones or bread??

    • Kristin–the oatcakes were like heavy muffins, not very bread-like. They were gobbled up faster than I thought would happen–made with only buttermilk, rolled oats, flour, baking soda and salt, they were quite delicious.

  2. this is so great, Jane! I read St. Brigid to Grace today for the first time! She loved it. It’s so much fun to have a mini history lesson with your child :) especially when it’s about Ireland! lovely. I am proud to say that I had a preview of the pumpkin bread and I can’t wait for the recipe- it really was the best we ever had! These pics are so much fun -what a great tradition. Miss you guys~ We love the Meyers!

  3. Fab, Jane. We ended up eating Iona’s fabulous dinner. I bought some little treats for each kid and Iona (Brigid) made a card to go with each one. She handed out the treats to all and quite enjoyed herself. I think we’ll have to do the oatcakes next year. I’ll have to find the history on that one. . .I’m curious.

    • Well, since the Saint Brigid oat cakes are made with baking soda, the tradition can’t be that old. Baking soda came to Ireland in the 1800’s–so if Saint Brigid made oat cakes, they were probably made without a leavening agent. Or, using brewer’s yeast… Anyway, they were pretty delicious. I’ll have to go back and find where I dug up that recipe and post it here…
      Cheers!

  4. Dear Jane,
    How terrific to find your blog – thank you for stopping by mine! Your celebrations and your family look like a lot of fun. I thought that your oatcakes were soda bread – they look just like what my husband’s auntie Mya used to bake in Donegal. She used white flour and cornmeal, which she called Indian Meal. Your book on St. Brigid looks beautiful and interesting.

  5. We love your books here. We made the crosses with pipe-cleaners to help ensure success and avoid frustration and they worked beautifully.
    While meeting with our bishop for the first time dd6 told him her favorite feast day/saints day was for St.Bridget. I attest this to your book which we first heard on Ancient Faith Radio with Dr. Chrissy Hart. Thank you so much for allowing it to be shared that way. We have been able to make such good selections from that option.

    Alicia in New Zealand

    • So glad Ancient Faith Radio has been such a blessing to you and your family. Chrissi is one of my favorite people! I edited and managed the production of both of her books, and love her podcast. What a gift she is. In case anyone else would like to hear her reading of The Life of Saint Brigid, here’s a link to the page on my website. http://www.janegmeyer.com/page/books/4
      There’s an audio button and it’s linked to Chrissi’s reading.

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