Said to ward off evil, fire and hunger; the Cross of St. Brigid is an old Irish symbol of protection.
The Brigid’s Cross is a religious symbol which is usually woven from rushes. The traditional design has four arms which are tied at the end and a woven square found in the middle.
Who was St. Brigid?
You may be asking, how did the cross get it’s name? Brigid was one of Ireland’s three patron saints. Born in Dundalk in 450 AD, St. Brigid is said to have created the first unique cross which now bears her name. Additionally, she was an early Irish Christian nun, abbess and the founder of the Irish monastery in County Kildare.
St. Brigid’s Day
Celebrated on February 1st, the feast of St. Brigid traditionally marks the beginning of Spring in Ireland. St. Brigid’s Day ushered in a new season of hope, growth and renewal and was seen as a time of joy and celebration.
Many households would leave a small piece of cloth or ribbon on their windowsill during the night. The superstition was that Brigid would touch the ribbon whilst on her travels thereby imbuing it with magical powers. Families would keep this holy cloth throughout the year to protect them against illness.
A Symbol of Protection
Traditionally, the crosses are made in Ireland on February 1st. The cross is then placed inside the house above a door or window to welcome the Spring season and celebrate the feast day of St. Brigid. It is thought to keep evil, fire and hunger from the home in which it is displayed. The St. Brigid’s Cross was a popular gift for those with a new home, and to newlyweds, so as to offer the couple protection and to wish them well in starting a family.
Many decorations, household items and jewelry include the St. Brigid’s Cross design. Today you can find table linens, figurines, ornaments and necklaces featuring the iconic cross. The St. Brigid’s Cross symbol continues to carry on and protect the home where these figurines are displayed or protect the wearer of a necklace.
Header image courtesy of BBC News.