The primary purpose of Imbolc is to celebrate Spring's impending replacement of Winter. In this sense, Imbolc may be seen as a spiritual alternative to the secular celebration of New Year's Eve.
At New Year's Eve, we often see the image of old, bearded Father Time replaced with a young baby. Father Time represents the old, outgoing year, and the baby celebrates the year just born. At Imbolc, we have similar imagery; an old crone represents the outgoing year, and turns things over to a young maiden.
Fertility, of course, plays a part here. The frozen earth is incapable of growing things, just as the old crone has grown incapable of producing offspring. This barrenness is replaced by the warm return of Spring, making the earth once again fertile, symbolized by the fertile young maiden.
How to Celebrate Imbolc
We give thanks for the season now departing from us,
For the blessings it has bestowed upon us,
And upon those with whom we share this world.
We pray that it will be a time filled with peace,
With abundance, with prosperity,
Let us now prepare for the time ahead
By opening our hearts, and our minds, and our spirits.
The table should be set with white candles. Since ewes begin lactating at around the time of Imbolc in many locations in the northern hemisphere, the sabbat is connected with ewe's milk. For this reason, some sort of dairy product - cheese, for example - should be included in the feast. Other than that, there are no specific food requirements, except that food should be plentiful! Something green and fresh, such as a salad, would indicate the coming of spring, but since winter is yet with us, the main fare should be hearty, served with a nice, crusty bread. Mead, ale, spiced wine or non-alcoholic equivalents would all be appropriate beverages.