also known as Oimelc, is the Celtic word for the festival of The White Goddess Brigid, or The Light Bringer. (Also the day of Michaelmas, when Mary was returned to her people after the ritual time of cleansing after Jesus' birth.) is celebrated on 31, January.
Imbolc ' The Festival Of Lights' sometimes called Oimelc is the time when the return of the sun's light is really felt. Another term for this holiday that you may have heard is "Brigid's Day". This is honouring the Celtic Goddess Brigid. She was the Goddess of Fire, and Patron of Midwifery. Another name she was called is "Bride". She would bless any woman about to be Hand fasted (or married). This is the origin of the Anglo/American word Bride. When the Romans came to Ireland they decided it would not bode well for their conversion efforts, to call Brigid an idol, and ban all honouring of her. It was therefore decided that she would be called "Saint" instead. The missionaries convinced the Irish people that she was an early Christian Missionary, rather than a Goddess, and she was so good that she was canonized. Thus the Irish Christians could reconcile Brigid and Christianity.
Imbolc was usually celebrated by lighting sacred fires (She was the Goddess of Fire, the Fire of Healing and Birth). Bonfires and candles too were lit. The Roman Catholic Church turned this celebration into Candlemas, the day when the candles that were to be used in the church in the coming year were blessed.
Today Imbolc is usually a time for predicting the weather patterns for the coming seasons. Of course we watch for the groundhog's shadow. One nice custom that is widely practiced today is to place a lighted candle in each window on the eve of Imbolc, allowing them to burn until the sun rises. Another custom is to weave a Brigid's Cross from straw. The cross then hangs untill the next Imbolc as a portent of fertility of the mind, and spirit. Lastly a custom deriving from Oimelc, (which literally translates as ewe's milk), because now too is the time lambing season begins, is the drinking of "lambswool". Lambswool is a hot drink make with crab apples and spices.