Today, February 2nd, is ‘Candlemas’. 40 days after Christmas Day… Some traditions leave their Christmas decorations up until today!!
The pagan tradition… Midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, candles were lit in a festival of light… sometimes to scare away evil spirits…
Various superstitions… If it’s fine then winter will continue; if it rains winter is ended… If your candle drips in a particular way someone in your family will die this year… if you bring snowdrops indoors today relationships will suffer…
Celts celebrated Imbolc – when lambs were born… Romans celebrated Lupercalia – Lupercus was the god of fertility and shepherds.
Spring is starting to stir; snowdrops… previously called Candlemas Lilies or Candlemas Bells appear.
We often visit Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden. Their February news-letter reflects early signs of spring:
‘Members of the Titmouse family have continued to pair up and are showing interest in the nesting boxes… The Nuthatches prefer an old woodpeckers nest hole… Treecreepers will have already found their nest site behind a piece of loose bark, preferably oak bark.
The Robins are singing their hearts out on the sunny days… they know Spring is just around the corner… seeing three Stoats chasing one another (mating time).’
Christians remember Candlemas as the ‘Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary’. 40 days after Jesus’ birth Mary went to the temple for purification – keeping the Levitical law.
Candlemas is also the ‘Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ’, At this temple visit Jesus was consecrated and presented to God.
It’s also the ‘Feast of the Holy Encounter’, remembering the old man, Simeon, who took Jesus in his arms and blessed him as a ‘Light for revelation to Gentiles’.
Today Christians, joining with Christians down through the centuries, light candles and remember Jesus, the Light of the World. And in our dark world we continue to need his light. Rich Clarkson’s poem reminds us…