Have you ever entered an Irish home and wondered what the handmade cross hanging above the door represents? Or perhaps you’ve seen a charm or pendant bearing the symbol that shares pride of place right aside shamrocks, harps, and claddagh rings.
St. Brigid’s Blessing
May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell
Bless every fireside, every wall and floor;
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof;
And every tongue and mind for evermore;
Bless every hand that toils to bring joy
And every foot that walks its portals through.
This is my wish today, my constant prayer
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.
I made a small cross for the inside of our house and using the above willow, I made a giant St. Brigid’s cross for the outside–my welcome to spring offering, traditionally placed near doorways to ward off evil, fire, and hunger from homes.
Here is a photo step-by-step tutorial of how I made the giant cross. Scroll over any picture to read the details of each step or click on any picture to start a slideshow.
Below is a tutorial of how the cross is woven. It’s the normal size and uses the rushes that are typically used. My friend Bernie shared how to make them with me and a group of friends this past Feb 1st when we gathered to celebrate St. Brigid’s Eve together.
I found plentiful common rush in a low lying field just aside our house. The cross can be made with any even number of stems from 12 or 16 upwards. We used 40 on the above mentioned occasion, 10 per side, but for this tutorial I used 16. Any bendable material can be used– rush, reeds, or even pipe cleaners.
I used a darker piece of rush to start (in step 3) so it would be easier to follow the directions in the tutorial.
Again, click on any picture to start a slideshow and to read the details of each step.
Tips and FYI: Because they can break when bent, choose a few more than you intend to use. They can be pre-soaked in water to make more pliant, but I didn’t do so.
I chose 20 pieces of rush which I then cut to 16 inches/41 cm. The more rush you intend to use, the larger the finished cross will be, therefore the longer your pieces need to be. Pre-cutting isn’t required, but the rush was easier for me to handle when shorter. My giant sized cross used 32 pieces of willow, 8 per arm.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of Irish culture and my personal adaptation of it. No doubt, I will post this again at the opportune time of January 2017, just in time to celebrate St. Brigid’s Day.
Happy spring one and all! Melissa Xx