The Winter Solstice, which Wiccans celebrate as Yule, is the shortest day of the year … and that means that from Yule onward, the days start getting longer. Most of us don’t notice the lengthening of the days until Bride, though – and Bride (pronounced breed) is the next Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year. It’s celebrated on the first or second of February.
Bride is a Celtic fire goddess, also known as Brigid. This Sabbat signals the Goddess’ return to her Maiden aspect, and we celebrate the Sun’s growing strength. Another name for the Sabbat is Imbolc (sometimes spelled Imbolg), and that name comes from a Gaelic word meaning “in the belly.” It refers to lambing season.
Traditionally, we celebrate Bride with milk products and lamb meat (if we’re not vegetarian or vegan). If we can, we light lots of candles to encourage the Sun’s growth, and the days getting warmer and brighter.
Bride marks the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, so there’s an element of “Spring cleaning” to some of our celebrations, too. Traditionally, the last of Yule’s evergreens are burned now – because now that it’s warm enough to go outside again, we don’t need evergreen boughs indoors to scent the house and remind us that life will begin again.
Ways to Celebrate Bride
Decorate your Circle with “candles” rolled or cut from paper. Find or draw a picture of flames and/or the Sun for your altar and bless the growing “day-fire” by saying something like this: By the warming of the air, by the lighting of the fire, by the nourishment of water, Sun God, now rise ever higher. By the strength of Mother Earth, by the birthing of the beasts, young Sun God be loved and blesséd, hailed and toasted in our feasts.
And (or) you can start your Spring cleaning. Physically, it’s easy: sweep, wash, fold, tidy. Spiritually, try this:
On small scraps of paper – even tissue will do – write three or four words, or draw a symbol, to represent those things you’d like to get rid of. Winter funk, negativity, anger, and sloppiness are examples; you may think of other habits or attitudes you’d like to see gone from your life.
As you write, say something like, _______ be gone! With darkness go. Make room for light and me to grow! As I cleanse my Circle, I cleanse my life, and from _________ have no more strife.
When you’re done writing, dispose of the paper. If it’s tissue, you can flush it down a clean toilet. If it’s other paper, you can tear it into small pieces and throw it in the trash – or you can put it in a cup of water and let it dissolve, as the growing Sun melts ice and Spring rains soften hard ground. (Pour the water into a clean toilet when the paper has dissolved.)
A Toast for Bride
Now that Springtime has begun, raise your cups to the rising Sun!
Drink to the new life coming forth; hail the turn to East from North.
Here’s to the Sun God’s growing might,
and the Goddess’ return to light!
Now we are from Winter freed — so drink to the Gods
and HAIL THE BRIDE!