It’s February and for many of us that means the middle of those winter doldrums. It happens to me too. Every year around this time, I feel sluggish and a little down. But there’s some hope for all of us to lift our sprits in the month of February. This short month has many ancient festivals that are still celebrated today. We’ll talk about three of these ancient spiritual festivals and see how they can ease us through the doldrums.
The Spiritual Festivals of Imbolc and Saint Brigid
The festival of Imbolc is mentioned in Irish literature starting from the 10th century. It was held on February 1st, and though its popularity has waned, it was widely observed in Ireland and Scotland as one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals.
For these ancient people, Imbolc marked the beginning of spring and special feasts were held in its celebration. The focus of the festival was to honor the ancient goddess Brigid who would protect homes and farm animals. Later the festival became a Christian event to honor Saint Brigid who was derived from the goddess Imbolc.
The Buddhist Parinirvana Day
On the other side of the world in East Asia, the Buddhist holiday Parinirvana Day is celebrated. It is also referred to as Nirvana Day, because it honors the day when Buddha achieved nirvana when he died.
This special day on February 15th is celebrated with meditation and visits to Buddhist temples. It’s also a day to pause with a Buddhist consideration of our own future death, and the deaths of loved ones.
February is Cleansing Month
Our next spiritual festival is Februalia which is the ancient Roman festival of purification. This event occurred on the 13th to the 15th days of February to celebrate Spring cleaning. I’m not sure why anyone would want to celebrate cleaning something. Maybe that’s why it’s not very popular today. Nonetheless, there is a very interesting point about this festival. The Roman month of Februarius is named after this festival!
So, when the winter doldrums hit you this month, remember that February has been celebrated in spiritual festivals through millennia as an end to winter. And don’t forget that even the name February is rooted in Spring and cleansing.
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