A Russian proverb states, “There was never a saint with red hair”, meaning all red-heads are prone to evil tempers and dissolute ways. In fact, one of the most famous Irish saints, Brigid, was a red-head.
It all began with Brid, the goddess of fire, patroness of hearth and home, smiths and forges, healers and herbs, poets and language. Honored in ancient Ireland, it was claimed that at birth, a column of fire reached from her red curls up into heaven. Many girls were named Brid, or Brigid, in her honor.
One such girl was Saint Brigid. Born in 435 AD to a chieftain and a slave girl, and raised by Druids, she was beautiful and iron-willed. She refused to be married off, instead choosing to follow the revolutionary teachings of St Patrick and embracing Christianity.
She worked many miracles, from controlling the weather to improving the yield of crops and livestock, and even outwitted Irish Chieftains. She travelled far and wide, eventually building an Abbey in Kildare where she welcomed travelers with legendary hospitality. She was fond of ale, and said to be the best brewer in all of Ireland! She also kept a magic red-eared cow that gave the most and best milk in the land.
Brigid’s feast day is still celebrated on February 1st, the old feast of the goddess Brid. On that day it is said Brigid travels through Ireland with her magic cow, blessing those who remember and honor their sacred roots.