Let’s be honest, Ireland is the kind of place you want to visit at least once in your life. Whether you take a little city break to Dublin, or whether you fly halfway across the globe to experience the Emerald Isle for yourself, you’ll soon realize that Irish folk love their culture, and they love their symbols. Across the world, there are a few well-known symbols of Ireland – including the Shamrock, the Irish Harp, the Celtic Cross and of course, Leprechauns. However, there is one symbol that remains unknown by many. Yep, we’re talking about the Brigid’s Cross.
What is the Brigid’s Cross?
So, what the heck is a Brigid’s Cross? Well, this symbol is a small cross, which has been woven from rushes. The traditional cross has four arms, which are connected by a woven square in the center. If you’ve been to Ireland, you may have noticed these crosses above doorways or on jewelry – as it has become a huge symbol of Irish culture, as well as Irish ritual.
What does it do?
First and foremost, the Brigid’s Cross is a symbol, so does not do anything in a physical sense. Yet metaphorically, these crosses are hugely important in the home and lives of Irish families. As you can tell by the name, the Brigid’s Cross is associated with Brigid of Kildare. You might be wondering why you recognize this name, and that is because Brigid is one of the patron saints of Ireland. Often known as ‘Mary of the Gael,’ Brigid is dubbed as the founder of the first monastery in County Kildare, and the reason the Brigid’s Cross became so popular. It’s believed that in Brigid visited a dying Chieftain who suffered from a restless spirit. As she spoke to him, she formed rushes she found on the floor into a cross and cured his troubled soul with her company. The Chieftain was so overwhelmed by the cross and the woman in front of him, that he was baptized as a Christian before he died. Since then, the Brigid’s Cross has been associated with religion and faith, and many place the cross above their doorways to keep away evil spirits that can taint the mind.
St. Brigid’s Feast Day
As well as placing these crosses over their doorways, many Irish families take part in the festivities on the eve of St. Brigid’s Feast Day (1st February), as well as the day itself. The families make these intricate designs out of straw or rushes to celebrate the patron saint and to mark the beginning of Spring. Nowadays, the symbol has become a major symbol of Ireland, and even resonates with those who aren’t religious. In fact, many wear the Brigid’s Cross around their neck as a necklace.
Just like the Shamrock, the Celtic Harp and the Leprechaun, the Brigid’s Cross is one of the irish symbols that you automatically connect to the Irish culture. At least you now know all of the history and symbolism behind it, ey?