’S e toiseach a’ Ghearrain àm sònraichte, anns am biodh na Gàidheil gu traidiseanta a’ dùileachadh droch aimsir / The beginning of February is a special time, during which the Gaels traditionally hoped for bad weather.
Brìde, a’ Chailleach agus an Cuilean
’S e toiseach a’ Ghearrain àm sònraichte ann am mìosachan nan Gàidheal. Tha e co-cheangailte ri Brìde, uaireigin na ban-dia phàganach a chumadh rian air an earrach agus air torrachas, agus Naomh Brìde aig na Crìosdaidhean. B’ e Latha Fèill Brìde, a’ chiad latha dhen Ghearran, latha ràithe letheach-slighe eadar Samhain agus Bealltainn agus, mar sin, bha e air leth cudromach.
Bhiodh daoine an dòchas gum biodh droch shìde aca aig an àm sin. Nam biodh Latha Fèill Brìde (no Imbolc mar a bh’ aig na h-Èireannaich air) soilleir, grianach, bha dùil aca gum biodh an còrr dhen gheamhradh fada, oir b’ e sin an latha air am biodh a’ Chailleach, ban-dia a’ gheamhraidh, a’ cruinneachadh fiodh airson a teine airson a’ chòrr de ràith an fhuachd. Nam biodh geamhradh goirid fa-near dhi, cha bhiodh feum aice air fiodh a chruinneachadh, agus leigeadh i leis an aimsir a bhith stoirmeil is mì-chàilear.
Bhiodh na seann Ghàidheil gu sònraichte ag iarraidh cruaidh-reothadh, no eadhon cur is cathadh, air an treas latha dhen Ghearran, air an robh an t-ainm Latha a’ Chuilein (ged nach eil fios carson a tha e co-cheangailte ri cù òg). Bha iad a’ creidsinn gum biodh am fuachd air an latha sin ‘a’ glanadh’ galaran a’ gheamhraidh agus gum biodh an sluagh na b’ fhallaine às a dhèidh. Saoil an obraich e ann an 2019?!
Bride, the Cailleach and the Puppy
The beginning of February is a special time in the Gaelic calendar. It is connected to the ancient pagan figure Brìde, once the goddess of spring and fertility, and to her later Christian namesake (St Bride or St Brigid in English), who is recalled in the many Scottish settlements called Kilbride (Cille Brìde, ‘the cell or church of St Bride’). Latha Fèill Brìde (Bride’s Feast Day), the 1st of February, is a traditional quarter-day, halving the six month interval between the pivotal Celtic celebrations of Samhain (the start of winter) and Bealltainn (the start of summer).
People would hope for bad weather at this time. If the 1st of February were a clear, sunny day, the remainder of the winter would likely be long, as this was the day when the Cailleach – the ancient goddess of winter – would collect her firewood for the rest of the cold season. Were she planning an early spring, she would have no need of a gathering-day, and she would permit the weather to be unpleasant and stormy.
The Gaels particularly hoped for freezing weather on 3rd February, which was known traditionally as Latha a’ Chuilein (‘the puppy’s day’ although the reason for the appellation is shrouded in mystery). They believed that extreme cold at that time (perhaps including snow and blizzards) would destroy winter germs and make for a healthier population. Keep your eye on the weather and see if it works in 2019!