What is the cros Bríde?
One of the traditional customs carried out into modern times is making the cros Bríde, or Brighid’s Cross. This cross is traditionally hung up above the doorway to the home for a year, then take down and put somewhere else (or burned.)
The cross itself is usually then accompanied by some sort of ritual. Kevin Danaher who authors The Year in Ireland writes on page 19:
Usually the making of the crosses was attended by some ceremony. In the southern half of Ireland the household usually made one cross, of the local type; this was then sprinkled with holy water and hung up above or close to the entrance door with an appropriate prayer, such as ‘May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be on this cross and on the place where it hangs and on everyone who looks at it.’ […] In the northern half of Ireland a much more elaborate ritual, in slightly varying forms from one locality to the next, was used.
In one such elaborate ritual involves a girl pretending to be Saint Bridget and asking for permission to stay at someone’s house while holding the rushes to be used in making the cross. After she has gained entrance, they have a dinner, say a prayer, then the crosses are made.
Steps to making a cros Bríde
Materials: Get at least 12 pieces of reed or straw (16 is better).
- Take the shortest one and hold upright.
- Take a second straw and fold it in the middle.
- Wrap the second straw around the first straw at the center so it opens to your right.
- Pull it tight.
- Rotate the assemblage 90 degrees counter-clockwise, holding it at the center where the straws come together.
- Repeat steps 2-5 until all straws are used.
- You will always be adding a straw at the top so it opens to your right, then turning the entire assemblage 90 degrees counter-clockwise, and repeating. Or, “add to the right, turn to the left.”
- Secure the ends of the arms of the Cross with twine, elastic, ribbon, etc., and trim the ends of the straws so that they’re even.
Pictures can be found here.
Note: You can also use pipe cleaners or rolled up paper.