February 1st is St Bridget’s Day, a Christian observance which was grafted onto the old Gaelic celebration of Imbolc. Imbolc is thought to have been celebrated in Ireland since the Neolithic times in some form or another – this theory comes from the alignment of some Megalithic monuments. Whatever its origins, as with other celebrations in other cultures at this time of year, the festival marks the beginning of spring, and was an excuse or reason great feasting.
St Bridget may originally have been Brigit, Brigid or Bríg, a much older goddess associated with dawn, the spring, fertility, healing, poetry and strangely, smiths! Saint Bridget of Kildare or Saint Bridget of Ireland, if she actually existed as a real person, may have lived between 451AD and 525AD and in Ireland today she is much revered.
As with all these special days, there are foods associated with them, and in one little book I have boxty pancakes are given as what is traditionally eaten, spread with fresh churned butter. The pancakes have potatoes in them which weren’t brought over from the New World until the end of the fifteenth century, but even so, these are delicious and easy to make!
- 8 oz mashed potatoes
- 8 oz raw, peeled and grated potatoes
- 8 oz white flour
- ½ tsp bicarb (I have seen some recipes where it is omitted)
- 8-12 fl oz buttermilk (you need to have a fairly stiff batter)
- mix both types of potato, flour and bicarb and salt to taste
- add buttermilk until you have a fairly stiff batter
- use butter or oil to grease a pan or griddle and cook large or small pancakes
… and here’s the important bit – serve and eat straight away with whatever you like, as a breakfast or with honey!!