The history of Imbolc is very interesting, but I’m also interested in the more superficial parts of a holiday, too. The ways in which celebrating it makes it different from other festivals. I found some information on The White Goddess.
Incense that is special to this day include Rosemary, Myrrh, Cinnamon and Frankincense. Traditional decorations are the corn dolly, besom and spring flowers. A besom is a broom made of twigs tied around a stick. I first saw one on Etsy (shown below) when I was looking around for Imbolc decorations. Although they can be used for decoration, Wiccans also use them on their altars and for rituals. The besom I linked to includes this festival’s colors of red, white, and orange.
Also from The White Goddess:
This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.
It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honour of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.
If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of summer. With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the snow.
Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc marks the festival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-bodied foods in honour of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate. Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins – all foods symbolic of the Sun – are also traditional.
There are still a few things I want to write about Imbolc in the coming days – it’s surprising there is so much surrounding it since it’s one of the lesser known, minor festivals!