Home / Brigid’s Cross (Brighid’s Cross, St Brigit’s Cross)

Brigid’s Cross (Brighid’s Cross, St Brigit’s Cross)

Brigid’s Cross is widely believed to be a Christian symbol but its origins lie in much older traditions and folklore.

Variations on St Brigid's Cross Image copyright Ireland Calling
Brigid’s Cross: Three-armed, woollen, diamond and traditional

The cross is usually woven out of rushes and sometimes straw. It consists of a central square surrounded by four arms at right angles and adorns the doors and rafters of Irish homes, usually in the kitchen, warding off fire and evil.

St Brigid's Cross Copyright Ireland CallingBrigid was a life giving goddess

Traditionally, these crosses were woven on the feast of Imbolc, the festival of the pagan goddess Brigid, to mark the beginning of Spring.

Brigid of the Tuatha de Danaan, in Irish Celtic mythology, was known as a life-giving goddess which is why the beginning of Spring with the birth of new lambs and the flowers beginning to bloom again, was associated with her.

She was also associated with fire, its productive uses and destructive power.

Brigid became a Christian saint

With the introduction of Christianity to Ireland, the goddess Brigid became St. Brigid, or St. Brigid of Kildare (450-520), one of Ireland’s patron saints.

Many of the attributes of the goddess were transferred to the saint. Imbolc became St Brigid’s Feast on the 1st Febuary. The cross became known as St. Brigit’s Cross. St. Brigit herself became associated with sacred flames and holy wells in keeping with the pagan beliefs.

St Brigid
St Brigid

St Brigid helped a dying man

St Brigid is said to have been an early pioneer of Christianity in Ireland. According to The Christian story, St Brigit’s cross came about when Brigid was called to the house of a dying chieftain. As the man lay dying and delirious, Brigid began to console him.

She picked up some rushes from the floor and began weaving a cross. At this point the dying man gained some lucidity and asked what she was doing. Brigid’s explanation of the cross calmed the man and he converted to Christianity on this deathbed.

St Brigid is still celebrated in Ireland

St Brigid's Cross - diamond-cross---rushes-on-willow-twigs
Diamond-cross – rushes on willow twigs

In modern times the feast of St Brigid is still celebrated in parts of Ireland on 1st February.

People weave crosses and display them on their doors and some of the older traditions are still observed. Neo-paganism has also resurrected Imbolc as a religious holiday on the same day.

Right, is a more complicated St Brigid’s Cross – a diamond-cross made with rushes twisted on to willow twigs.

Here’s a video to show how to make a St. Brigid’s Cross. You could use art straws if you can’t get rushes.

Video – How to make an origami Celtic cross

Irish wisdom, Image copyright Ireland Calling

* * *

Video – Inside Brigit’s Garden in Co Galway

Brigit’s Garden in Co Galway tells the story of the four Celtic seasons in ancient Ireland. This stunning video takes you strolling through all four sections of the video, to witness the beautiful scenery and symbols…all set to haunting Celtic music by Arlene Faith.


Store

Gold Celtic Cross

Art

Celtic Mythology Symbols More on Celtic symbols

Do you qualify to become an Irish citizen?

There are three main ways for a person to qualify for Irish citizenship – through birth, through marriage or civil partnership or through naturalisation. Check if you qualify for Irish citizenship

Did you know?

Why does Ireland have such a high percentage of red-haired people compared to the rest of the Western world? Is it from the Celts or could the Vikings be responsible? Find out more.

Have you heard about…

An Irish bride performed beautiful rendition of the song ‘The Prayer’ at her wedding – and returned from her honeymoon to find that the video had gone viral. Find out more.

What about this…

‘The most dangerous woman in America’ – ‘Mother Jones’ was an Irish emigrant who fought for worker’s rights, believing that working men should be able to earn enough money from a hard day’s work to provide for their families. Her efforts landed her in court, where the prosecution labelled her the ‘most dangerous woman in America’. Find out more.

»crosslinked«