As spring begins to appear, I’m planning a Garden of Lights party to celebrate the ending of winter, the coming of spring, new life and nature’s movements during this time. This party is based on the celebration of Imbolc–one of the four principal festivals of the Irish calendar. Halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, the holiday celebrates new life just beginning to stir in the earth.
My current read, “Animal Vegetable Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver, has inspired me to work harder growing my own foods in my garden–an effort that is perfectly aligned with the current season and focus of the Imbolc holiday. So, to prepare for our Garden of Lights celebration, we planted a bed of seeds, we dipped our own beeswax candles, and over the next couple of weeks, we’ll practice reciting a spring poem and perhaps a song.
On the day of the party, we’ll clear a nice patch of brown earth for our garden spot. We might ring it with white stones that will gleam in the moon and candlelight.
And then we’ll have our party. We’ll plant a small seed in the ground (or symbolic seed–something we’d like to “grow” within ourselves over the next year), and place our candle in the ground over it. Then, we light our candles, their warmth beckoning the new seeds to begin their way to the surface of the earth.
Gazing at the candles, we’ll recite our springtime poem or a song. Or, perhaps I’ll simply retell our special Imbolc story* to remind the kids why we’re having the garden lights celebration.
We’ll watch our candles, and then serve some tasty seeded foods–lemon poppyseed scones, or a nice German bread loaded with sunflower seeds.
After the event, I’ll report back to let folks know what worked and what didn’t. (Hopefully nothing will catch on fire other than our candle wicks!)
* To engage Jasmine in this celebration, I invented a little story that roughly follows the idea behind the festival. It’s something you could make up for your own family, using whatever creatures or ideas you think would resonate. Mine tells the story of animals bored and cold in the winter who hear strange sounds one evening. The sounds draw them out to the garden where they decide to have a party to cheer them before spring arrives. They share foods, make candles, and burn them in a “Garden of Lights” in a patch of earth. The candles attract attentions of winter fairies who come to dance on the garden and encourage the seeds beneath to sprout.