Sunday, January 29, 2017

St. Brigid and the St. Brigid's Cross


The short dark days of winter have been getting brighter and longer since the winter solstice marked the shortest day of the year on December 21.  The Celtic calendar denotes February 1 as the pagan festival of Imbolc, the first day of spring, and celebrations are in order to commemorate warmer, longer days and the evidence that new growth is on the way.

February 1 also corresponds with the feast day of St. Brigid, who along with Patrick, is one of Ireland's patron saints.

St. Brigid was born in 451 AD in the town of Faughart in County Louth, Ireland; Faughart honors its native daughter with a shrine and well that regularly receive a substantial amount of tourists and pilgrims.   She was the daughter of Dubhtach, a Leinster pagan chieftain, and Brocca, a Christian slave woman who had been baptized by none other than St. Patrick.  Because her mother was a slave, she too was a slave; however her father notice her works of charity and eventually granted her freedom. 
St. Brigid founded monasteries in Kildare and she is credited with establishing the first order of nuns in Ireland.  Kildare became a center of religion and education and her small monastery eventually evolved into a cathedral city.
St. Brigid is remembered for her great charity and kindness and is second only to St. Patrick, among Ireland’s heritage of saints.  Thousands of Irish woman throughout the world are named Brigid in her honor. 

The most enduring image of the Irish saint is the St. Brigid’s Cross.  In her endeavor to explain the
St. Brigid's Cross at The Irish Gift House
Passion of Christ to her father, a dying pagan, she wove a cross from the straw-like rushes strewn on the floor and was able to baptize him just before his death.  In those early Christian times the farmers adopted the custom of making these same crosses at the beginning of spring to protect their holdings, placing the handmade straw cross in prominent positions in their houses and barns.

The tradition of making the crosses on  January 31, the eve of her feast day,  continues to the present day in Ireland and abroad.  The St. Brigid’s Cross is believed to protect the owner from want and evil.


The Irish Gift House is proud to feature a fine selection of St. Brigid's crosses that we offer as necklaces and related jewelry such as charms; this jewelry is made in Ireland by Solvar.  Naturally we also offer many Irish made St. Brigid's wall crosses along with various gifts that include a tankard from Mullingar Pewter and several ornaments.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Nollaig na mBean - Women's Christmas!


January 6 is the Feast Day of the Epiphany which marks the end of the twelve days of the Christmas Season.  The season starts with the revelation of Christ to Israel in His birth on Christmas Day and ended with the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles with the visit of the Three Wise Men or Magi at Epiphany.

In Ireland, Epiphany is also known as Nollaig na mBean, which translates from the Irish language to Women's Christmas in English.  On this day women are not responsible for doing any of the housework, taking care of the children or cooking the family meal.  

The women traditionally meet at each other's homes for some relaxation and socializing that includes food and drinks.  The meals would tend to be baked delicacies such as scones and cream cakes, washed down with a nice pot of tea or maybe something a little bit stronger.

The men would stay at home and take down the Christmas decorations, see off the visitors and look
Irish Christmas Decorations at The Irish Gift House
after the house and children.

Ladies, The Irish Gift House hopes that you enjoy your day!

Guinness Gifts at The Irish Gift House


Guinness t-shirt at The Irish Gift House
 

Guinness Christmas Ornament at The Irish Gift HouseThe Irish Gift House is proud to announce that we have just given our Guinness gifts category a complete makeover that includes updated product images and better descriptions.  Naturally we couldn't help adding some new items such the latest Guinness Christmas ornament and a Guinness t-shirt.
Some of the earliest items we ever added to our site, TheIrishGiftHouse.com, were several pieces of Guinness merchandise with one being a Guinness pouring spoon.  These branded pouring spoons will assist you in concocting a black and tan or a half and half; you simply pour the black stuff over the back of the spoon so that it fans out over your ale in the former and your larger in the latter.  You may also wish to use your pouring spoon to create a drink called a black velvet which starts off with champagne.
Irish coat of arms glasses at The Irish Gift House

Most however just order a pint of the plain and your best bet is to use a tulip shaped Guinness glass.  The tulip shaped glass is wider toward the top and the benefit of this shape is to allow the nitrogen bubbles to travel from the bottom and return to the top and create the famous creamy head.  The Irish Gift House offers a varied assortment of 20 ounce Irish beer glasses and Irish coat of arms barware that are perfect way for you to imbibe this ebony nectar from Ireland.  Another classic vessel for enjoying your stout is from one of our Celtic tankards, but don't miss browsing our crystal tankards from Galway Crystal or our pewter tankards from Mullingar Pewter.
Guinness bar sign at The Irish Gift House
The iconic stout has a loyal following and these ardent enthusiasts appreciate Guinness merchandise because they evokes pleasant experiences of drinking Ireland's most famous dark beer.  We have dozens of thoughtful Guinness gifts that you will be pleased to give and receive that range from an apron to several bottle openers.  For the man cave or the home pub we have a selection of Guinness bar signs that include several that are made of wood.

Additional considerations include the Guinness rugby shirts that are woven in a traditional fashion that is suitable for game day and the assortment of Guinness polo shirts are perfect for a round of golf or for casual wear.  

So go ahead and treat yourself to any of our Guinness gifts.  You are encouraged to drink responsibly, but we urge you to browse our site with abandon.