Imbolc was the pagan’s first spring festival. They had survived the worst of winter, and it was a time to divine what the rest of winter would be like. Originally a hedgehog was used in divination. Immigrants in the new Americas used groundhogs (or woodchucks), being the closest animal they could find to a hedgehog.
Imbolc is the celebration of Brigid, the goddess of health and birth. The early Christian church added Brigid into their pantheon of saints and named her Saint Brigit. She is invoked by sacramental candles. Parishioners would hold the candle to their throats to prevent cold and flu. Holding the candle to the throat represents healing to the heart chakra, which honors the goddess of health.
Brigid was honored by bonfires. Fire represents purification and cleansing. The custom of spring cleaning developed from the fires of purification. It was felt that you should get all the household duties out of the way so that everyone would be prepared to work during the growing season.
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