Celebrating Candlemas Day
Learn about the origins of Candlemas day plus ways to celebrate this Pagan holiday which promises of the return of the light and the renewal of life.
Adapted with permission from School of the Seasons.
Feb. 2 is one of the great cross-quarter days which make up the wheel of the year. It falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and in many traditions is considered the beginning of spring.
In Western Europe, this was the time for preparing the fields for the first planting. Pamela Berger has written a book,The Goodess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint
, about the rituals celebrated at this time of year, when the ground is first awakened and the seed placed in the belly of the earth. This is a significant moment in a community which depends on the earth for sustenance. The fields were purified and offerings were made to the goddess.
The promises of the return of the light and the renewal of life which were made at the winter solstice are now becoming manifest. It's the dawn of the year. It's the time when a woman who is pregnant begins showing. It's time to creep out of the hibernation of winter, cautiously, like the Ground Hog who supposedly emerges on this day to check his shadow. It's the time of germination. This is a traditional time for new beginnings. Covens of witches usually initiate new members at this time.
What is the best way to celebrate? Candles and Christmas Greens The main element of your decorating scheme for Candlemas is fairly obvious: candles. You can gather all the candles in your home in one room and light them from one central candle. Or place a candle in each window (but watch them carefully).
Candlemas is one of the traditional times for taking down Christmas decorations (Twelfth Night, on Jan. 6, is the other). If you are very careful (because they are tinder dry), you can burn them. Or, better yet, return them to the earth mother by using them for compost or mulch.
Certain foods are traditional for Candlemas, including crepes, pancakes and cakes, all grain-based foods. Pancakes and crepes are considered symbols of the sun because of their round shape and golden color.
If you have a fireplace, clean out your hearth and light a new fire. Sit around the fire and reflect on your hopes for the coming year. What do you hope to accomplish? What are you passionate about? What seeds do you wish to plant? Discuss these ideas with others or write them down in a journal, but make them concrete in some way so that on Lammas (Aug. 2, the festival of the first harvest), you can look back to see your progress.