If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If on Candlemas Day it be shower and rain
Winter is gone and will not come again.
– Old English proverb
Not everyone needed a groundhog to predict the end of winter!
February 2nd is the midway point between winter and spring. The days are starting to be noticeably longer and hope for better weather abounds.
Here in the states, February 2nd is known as Ground Hog Day. Punxsutawney Phil is supposed to come out of his burrow and tell us whether or not Spring is on its way. Unfortunately, he’s not very accurate. He’s right about 39% of the time. Random chance is 33%. But it’s a big shindig in Punxsutawney, PA so I don’t think it will be going away any time soon.
It’s also Imbolc, a cross-quarter day between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Solstice. As it is considered the beginning of Spring, it is a time of cleansing and purification, growth and renewal. It is believed to have originated as a Pagan festival honoring the goddess Brighid and Christianized into the festival of Saint Brighid. To different degrees, both are still celebrated on or about this day.
But the tradition that concerns me today is that of Candlemas Day. Candlemas Day has had different meanings over time. It is the Christian festival of lights; combining when Jesus was brought to the temple 40 days after his birth and the time when all the candles to be used in the church are brought forth and blessed. In the past, this was also the time for the lady of the house to inventory the candles to make sure she had enough to get through the winter. Candles were important for light but also thought to give protection against illness.
Candlemas was also the time when all the Christmas decorations were to be removed to avoid bad luck in the house. (Christmas was a much longer affair, back when.) This custom persisted for hundreds of years. Today there are people who claim Twelfth Day or Epiphany is The Day. I, however, prefer to stick with Candlemas Day. It allows me to leave my lights up to brighten my evenings for a few weeks more. 😀
So tomorrow I’ll be stripping out the rest of Christmas from the house and enjoying some candles and tea and cookies!
Blessings be to match, wax, flame.
Gratitudes to the Kindler on this our Candlemas Day.
– Sarah Ban Breathnach “Simple Abundance”