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With Thanks to...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

How to make a St Bridget's Cross

Last night we were sitting in the kitchen making some St Bridgets' Crosses, a wee tradition that my good lady has ensured we continue every 31st January. This is traditionally the last day of Winter and the night before St Bridget's Day (1st February - the first day of Spring).

This is an ancient custom in Ireland and the crosses were hung above the entrances to houses and barns to invoke the help of St Bridget in warding off disease. Rushes were traditionally used to make the St Bridget's Cross. These were collected from wet fields and cut about 18 inches or 450mm long.


Rushes can sometimes be hard to find for townies or people who live in the city but most garden centres can get them for you.

So, Here is how to make a St. Bridget's Cross - Step by step...

Take two rushes and cross them over each other

Bend one straw around the other. For the rest of the making of the cross always apply pressure in the centre to hold everything in place.

Turn the cross 1x turn to the right and fold another rush around the one you just added. Keep pressure in the centre. This is what you do with every other rush you add - it gets easier as you go along!

Turn the cross 1x turn to the right and fold another rush around the one you just added.
Keep pressure in the centre. You can see the centre-square starting to form.

Turn the cross 1x turn to the right and fold another rush around the one you just added.
Keep pressure in the centre. You should be getting the hang of it by now!

Turn the cross by 1 turn to the right and fold another rush around the one you just added. As the cross developes keep pressure on the point where the last added rush folds over - in this picture, this is where the right hand thumb is applying the pressure.

It gets a little bit awkward to hold the cross together as it gets bigger but don't panic! Keep turning (by 1 turn) and adding a rush until you have 5 rushes on each arm of  the cross.

When you get to this stage it is time to tie off the ends. Use wool, string or rubber bands to tie the cross. Tie securely the LAST end that you added.
Then tighten up the cross by gently pushing the rushes to the centre. Get someone else to hold the cross for you to make the job easier.


Tie off each end securely but be careful not to be to tight or you might cut or bruise the rushes. Nearly there!

Trim off the ends of the cross with a pair of sharp scissors leaving about 1 inch or 25mm over the edge.


There you Go!

Now Teach your Kids how to do this and tell them to teach their kids.
It only takes one generation to lose a tradition - and that, I believe, applies to everything in life!

Much obliged to my lovely wife Nuala for the use of her lovely hands!!

For more on St Bridget, her history & myths, see this excellent account:  http://www.allsaintsbrookline.org/celtic_saints/brigid.html

Don't forget mto Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!
zack

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The Irish Food Guide Blog www.IrishFoodGuide.ie includes news, foodie chat, recipes, award results, links and other general information on the Food & Tourism Industry in Ireland.

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