IMBOLC took place last week. It’s a festival with ancient origins, possibly even pre-Celtic, celebrated on the first two days of February and marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

The winter solstice is when the days have the fewest daylight hours, but the spring equinox in March is the time when daylight overtakes the dark, and our days become progressively lighter until the summer solstice is reached. So it is an important milestone as we climb out of winter.

In Celtic times, the celebration of Imbolc was associated with the goddess Brigid, meaning the exulted one. Her origins come from the Tuatha Dé Danann, the mythical and mysterious folk of the otherworld. She was associated with the powers of healing and water, of fire and poetry. She was a powerful representation of mother earth and during Imbolc the Cailleach of winter is compelled to yield to her and the grip of winter begins to wane. Thus at Imbolc we have the first tentative signs of spring, and the gradual return of the light.

READ MORE: Tim's Tales: A lesson I won’t forget

In later times, the festival was incorporated into Christian tradition and associated with a saint bearing the same name, St Brigid, who died 1,500 years ago and became the female patron saint of Ireland. St Brigid’s Day has been made a holiday in Ireland and has become a popular celebration of both St Brigid’s legacy and her symbolism for the future.

So this time is associated with two women of the same name, one a pagan goddess, the other a Christian saint, but with a shared symbolism on renewal, nature’s awakening and the power of women and the feminine.

The mythology and legends of the two Brigids is fascinating and worth discovering, although I have no space for it here today. Maybe another time. But let us remember Imbolc is part of Scottish tradition as well and, even if we are not religious, we can choose to celebrate it in our own way.

I do, every year, with my own ritual. You see, I yearn for this time, when the indigestion from too much haggis and whisky has finally gone, when tax returns, for good or bad, are submitted, and the arrival of February opens the door to Imbolc.

My ritual is to make an extra effort to notice the seasonal changes around me. One of the first things I notice is the light. At Imbolc time, it’s light at 5pm. It’s such a relief after all those dark early evenings. It feels like hope, like an awakening. The depression and slumber forced on me by the dark wintertime can begin to lift. It’s an emotion our prehistoric ancestors would have felt, and no wonder they wanted to celebrate it.

READ MORE: Tim's Tales: A universal truth: peace and beauty can exist after war

Then, as I take the kids to school or pick them up, I search the ground like a sparrowhawk searching for elusive prey; except I’m looking for signs of spring, for the awakening and regrowth of nature. Snowdrops are an obvious sign but this year I felt a surprise at the abundance of daffodils appearing so early. The cherry trees are also in bud, biding their time but loaded and ready. I also came across a garden resplendent with crocuses.

Then my youngest daughter came home from primary school two days ago and told me they’d discovered a bee in the school playground, looking cold and exhausted. I asked her if it was perhaps a buff-tailed bumblebee and described what it looked like. They have been known to be around in February, but she wasn’t sure which kind it was. They did the right thing and gave it some sugared water and it seemed to recover.

There have been stormy but mild days and it’s usually warmer temperatures which wake bees from their hibernation. We hoped this bee hadn’t been woken prematurely as there’s a cold snap now. My daughter expressed concern for the creature and hope it survived.

Some folks may say “it’s just a bee”. But where is the line of our concern for what Burns called our fellow mortal?

Anyway, it gave us an idea for a new Imbolc tradition. We decided to open an account on the Woodland Trust’s ‘Our Nature Calendar’. It’s easy and free, just Google it! We will begin to record when we see bees in late winter and early spring, as well as other insects and flowers. It helps them track the effects of weather and climate change.

“I’m sure Brigid would approve of this,” I said to my daughter.

“Which one, the goddess or the saint?”

“Both of them!”