In Ireland as late at the mid 18th century, Imbolc, or Bridget's night would have been of the utmost importance. The belief was that the saint would only visit the most moral of houses and bless all those within as they lay sleeping. It was vital therefore that suitable preparations were made before retiring.
An off centre cross made from rushes and known as St Bridget's cross was hung above the door as a sign of welcome, small cakes were baked as an offering and the last task would be to make up St Bridget's bed. The women of the house would take a box or a drawer and decorate it with ribbons before placing in the 'Bride doll', usually fashioned from cloth or sheaves, which was symbolic of the Goddess. Alongside the doll, was placed a phallic symbol such as a wand or stick of hazel, ash or birch, in the hope that the male and female energies would unite to bring fertilityand abundance to the home during the year. The ashes of the fire were then smoothed over, a candle lit and the woman of the household would call 3 times from the door, 'Bride is come. Bride is wecome.'
The next morning would tell whether the household had been blessed by a visit from St Bridget. If there was a footprint in the ashes on the hearth, or the mark of a phallic wand the house holders could rest assured that they had been blessed. If however, the ashes remained smooth the inhabitants knew they must have done something to offend their saint and would bury a cockerel at a place where the 3 roads met in order to appease Her.