SummaryHomeschooling mom and author Mary Ellen Barrett celebrates her beloved St. Brigid with a delicious bread, a bit of Irish tea, and favorite read-along tales.
February 1st is the feast of Brigid of Kildare, one of the three patron saints of Ireland (St. Patrick and St. Columba are the others). She is the patroness of dairy farmers, Irish nuns, newborn babies, midwives, and cattle. She was born in 443 B.C. to the slave of a Druid Chieftain. Brocca, Brigid’s mother, was baptized by St. Patrick and raised Brigid as a Christian.
Her charity and holiness became well known and she was constantly in trouble for giving away everything she or her owners owned. She was eventually freed at the behest of the king who, seeing her holiness said, “Her merit before God is greater than ours.”
St. Brigid’s life was dedicated to God and the Catholic faith. She founded monasteries for both men and women and was a close friend of St. Patrick’s and they were considered pillars of the Irish people.
Tradition holds that Brigid went about the countryside accompanied by a white cow with red ears, blessing households as she went. To make her welcome, housewives would place bread and butter on the windowsill, along with some corn for the cow, and rushes for her to kneel upon while blessing their homes.
To celebrate this great saint, set aside some time in the afternoon to feast on St. Brigid’s Bread (recipe below) and Irish tea while reading Brigid and the Butter by Pamela Love or St. Brigid and the Cows by Eva K. Betz. Having the children color a St. Brigid coloring page (there are many available on Pinterest) while you read is fun.
If you would like to further immerse yourself in some good Irish-themed storytelling, you cannot do better than The Cottage at Bantry Bay by Hilda van Stockum.
Today is also a good day to, in Brigid’s name, donate food to a local pantry or shelter or to try your hand at butter making (directions below).
Beannachtai Lá Féile Bríde!
(St. Brigid’s Day blessings to you)
St. Brigid’s Bread
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. butter, in small pieces
- 3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal (old fashioned)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 425º degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a baking sheet.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add butter bits and cut in with a knife until mixture is crumbly. Add oats and mix well.
Beat the egg with the buttermilk in a separate bowl.
Make a “well” in the dry ingredients, then pour in the egg mixture and mix all with a fork until the crumbs hold together. Form the dough into a ball and knead (on a floured surface, about 20-25 times). Add flour if the mass is still too sticky to work with.
Form the dough ball into an 8-inch round and transfer it to the baking sheet.
Score a deep cross into the bread but do not cut through.
Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes, or until medium brown and a tester comes out clean.
How to Make Butter:
2/3 cup of cold heavy whipping cream
1 cup canning jar with lid and ring
Step 1: Pour cream into the jar and screw on the lid. Shake the jar until butter forms a soft lump, 15 to 20 minutes. Continue to shake until buttermilk separates out of the lump and the jar contains a solid lump of butter and liquid buttermilk.
Step 2: Pour contents of the jar into a fine-mesh strainer and strain out the buttermilk, leaving the solid butter. Remove the lump of butter and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until needed.
Note: You can also do this in a blender or food processor, but it is more fun for the kids to take turns shaking the jar.