Birch is a hardy and adaptable tree, able to grow where many trees cannot. It seldom grows alone and is often found in groves.
The birch tree has many uses both medicinal and practical.
Birch wood is durable but quick to rot, making it a good home for insects and birdlife.
It was often used to make May poles and start the fires at Beltane, the festival of new beginnings, due to a highly combustible tar in its bark.
This tar is furthermore believed to be good for the skin and can be used to treat eczema.
Birch is also associated with purification and protection. The leaves of the birch can be brewed into a tea that treats infection, stimulates the gall bladder and kidneys and is said to dissolve gravel and kidney stones.
Birch used to stimulate purification process
In Scandinavia birch is used in saunas to stimulate the purification process and in Russia birch branches are beaten against the skin at steam rooms for the same purpose. This practice was also used as a punishment in old England to purify a criminal of evil.
Brooms were often made out of birch twigs as birch was believed to have protective qualities.
The birch brooms were used to drive away the spirits of the old year in a protective ritual called ‘beating the bounds’.
Babies’ cradles were often made of birch for these same protective qualities and it is said that carrying a piece of birch will protect you from fairies.
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?Singing Cork barman has fans across the world - a video of the Irish music loving barman singing while he poured a pint went viral as people became enchanted by his easy going style and great voice. Check out his video.
Have you heard about…Irish people warned about the ‘Celtic curse’ - a potentially deadly blood condition, that harms the liver, heart and pancreas, has been labelled the ‘Celtic Curse’ because more people in Ireland are prone to it than people from other countries. Find out more.
What about this…‘Irish giant’ Tom Crean was one of the bravest and toughest explorers of the early part of the 20th century. Thanks to his positivity and faith, he managed to not only survive horrific conditions but also save the lives of his colleagues. Find out more.