Make Brigid's Day a national holiday
Brigid embodies the ancient triple goddess archetype: goddess of healing, fire and the Arts. Our matron Saint also represents true Christianity, renowned for her compassionate care for the poor and animals.
We have been so fortunate to have our diaspora bring our heart-warming green to the rest of the world, with more and more countries constantly joining the global greening initiative, from Nairobi, to Ankara. As Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland says, “The eagerness of cities and countries everywhere to take part underlines the strength of the deep connection that people all over the world feel to Ireland.”
Whilst hearts around the world are warmed by Ireland and St. Patrick in March, we believe it’s time to give some recognition and time for reflection to those in Ireland, with St. Brigid’s Day, welcoming the official start of Spring or Imbolg.
To celebrate Brigid’s Day the Herstory Light Show illuminates iconic landmarks, to lift Ireland’s spirits, celebrate the return of the light and honour all who deserve to be honoured, such as the Mother & Baby Home victims & Corona heroes.
Just like St. Patrick’s Day was made an international success by our cherished diaspora, the Irish abroad led the way, pre-covid, with Brigid’s celebrations, with Irish Embassies and Irish cultural centres marking the day with events honouring Irish women around the world. For reference, please see the The Irish Times article profiling St. Brigid’s Day events around the world in 2019. (https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/abroad/st-brigid-s-day-irish-women-to-be-celebrated-around-the-world-1.3777791) In truth, we have some catching up to do back home!
The last time Ireland allocated a public holiday was in 1993, to honour May Day. In fact, Ireland is 2-4 days behind the rest of Europe when it comes to public holidays, currently with 9 public holidays in the year, where most European countries have 11 -13 days. https://www.thejournal.ie/bank-holidays-ireland-europe-3363195-Apr2017/.
The period between December and March is acknowledged to be one of the most depressing of the calendar year, with Christmas passed, celebrations over, still in the shortened daylight hours. With increased pressure on our emotional wellbeing, we believe the 1st February is a perfect day to celebrate, marking Brigid’s Day as the day to welcome the Spring and return of the Light.
In keeping with spreading the Irish spirit around the world, it must be noted that Irish missionaries and migrants also carried Brigid’s name and spirit across the world. Pilgrims and visitors come to Kildare from all over the world seeking to walk in Brigid’s footsteps. Brigid’s legacy has endured. Her life still speaks to us in the 21st century. Her values and associations are inextricably reflected in who we are as a people. From the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare:
Woman of the Land - Her feast day on the 1st February marks the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere. It is the season when we celebrate new life on earth. Many today draw inspiration from the respect which Brigid and our ancestors had for all creation.
Friend of the Poor - Brigid had an extraordinary concern and compassion for the poor people of her time. Her legends challenge us share the goods of the earth with our brothers and sisters especially those who live in desperate poverty.
Woman of Hospitality - Brigid’s spirit of hospitality is legendary. For Brigid, every guest is Christ.
A Peacemaker - Feuds between clans were commonplace in Brigid’s day. She is often referred to as a peacemaker who intervened in disputes between rival factions and brought healing and reconciliation. She challenges us to be peacemakers and peacekeepers.
Model of Equality - Brigid held a unique position in the early Irish church. Scholars tell us that she presided over the local church of Kildare and was head of a double monastery for men and women. She challenges both men and women today to create a society where men and women are equally respected.
Wells - "St. Brigid has many wells dedicated to her around Ireland, as a reflection of her importance to early Christianity and pre-Christianity. St. Brigid assumed the persona of the pagan goddess Bríd, or Brigid - a Celtic Goddess of inspiration, healing, and smith-craft with associations to fire, the hearth and poetry."
What a role model to live by in today’s increasingly disconnected world.
Minister Varadkar, we the Irish People ask you now to honour Brigid, who bridges divides and who has been our guiding light for thousands of years. We feel that the time to implement this holiday is 2022 - an ideal time to introduce this new holiday to the nation as a beacon of hope and light in these challenging times.
We reflect on the vision of the founders of our nation and the historic 1916 Declaration of Independence, which made Ireland the first country in the world to promise equal rights to men, women and children.
A century later, we have made great strides towards realising the 1916 vision. Although there is much work ahead, the vision that was once perceived as visionary is now realistic. The evidence is in this decade’s extraordinary victories of compassion and equality: the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Referendum to Repeal the 8th Amendment.
The time has come to write a new story of unity and equality, by celebrating Ireland’s matron Saint Brigid equally to St. Patrick. Making Brigid’s Day a national holiday would be a true reflection on today’s Ireland, sending a strong egalitarian message to the world.
Melanie Lynch, Treacy O'Connor, Laura Murphy & Lorna Evers Monaghan
On behalf of the Irish People, Spring Equinox 2021