Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding For Candlemas and St. Brigid's Day
Candlemas is the Christian festival commemorating the Purification of the Blessed Virgin and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The name “Candlemas” is derived from the procession of candles, inspired by the words found in the bible“a light to lighten the Gentiles.”
This date is significant because it falls right in the middle of the winter solstice and the spring equinox. All celebrations surrounding these two seasonal events involved farming and plowing the fields. The cattle and sheep would be brought out of the winter pastures so that crops could be planted.
The day before Candlemas, February 1, is known as St. Brigid’s Day, and it marks the beginning of Spring. St. Brigid, the patron saint of poetry and wisdom, was associated with all regeneration and nature’s bounty. The eternal flame for Brigid was lit in her honor at the St. Brigid’s Cathedral in Kildare. In the thirteenth century, nuns took over the flame, forbidding any men to enter the premises until an angry bishop came along and had it extinguished for the first time in a thousand years. We’re guessing that he wasn’t invited to the feast.
In Ireland, this day is also referred to as Imbolc, which translates to “in the belly,” a reference to pregnant, lactating sheep, that were symbols of the first hints of spring.
Candlemas and St. Brigid’s Feast or Imbolc are celebrations of the milk that began to flow forth from the sheep in the wake of Spring, dairy is the star ingredient. Cheeses, milk, butter, cream, and yogurt could all be incorporated into your meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Braided bread is found in many forms and in many cultures. They are readily available at almost any supermarket or bakery and are the perfect accompaniment for whatever you serve at your Candlemas feast. The braid symbolizes Brigid in her aspect as the bride, which is representative of her fertility and position as a hearth goddess. Feel free to quote me.
Another notable food for this celebration is corn. In the Middle Ages, a loaf of bread and an ear of corn were left outdoors on the night of February 1st as offerings to the saint.
I’ve combined all three ingredients—milk, bread, and corn—into a delicious bread pudding.