Candlemas falls on 2 February. It celebrates Brigid or Bride who is the saint of midwives and new birth. In Europe, where it originates, it marks the fact that the days are noticeably longer and in some areas of Britain, spring flowers will be starting to grow.
So this is a festival for all of you in temperate areas who may feel cheated by the lack of snow and a clear presence of King Winter! I celebrated Candlemas when we lived in England – now that I live in Wisconsin, it means less to me as there’s no way that any signs of spring arrive on 2 February!
Here’s what I used to do in temperate England: I would make earth candles. You can either dig little holes say around your house and then pour in wax and make earth candles, or, if your soil is sandy or it’s still a bit frozen, you can put votive (night light) candles in little glass jars around your house.
If you make earth candles, you can take all the stubs and stumps of old candles you have lying around the house and melt them down in a large can over a fire – rig up a double boiler outside over a real fire for the nicest effect. Then take sticks the width of the holes that you’ve made and tie a wick to each (get wicks from the candle-making section of any craft shop). Carefully pour in the wax and let it harden. Light the candles once they’re all set – early evening is the most effective time. If the candles disappear, it could be because your soil is too sandy – you could also line the hole with aluminum foil if that’s the case.
And tell a story of Brigid who was an Irish princess who went through a well to find her destiny. She would travel about Ireland helping woman who were giving birth. Tell your child that by lighting these candles, you are helping Mother Earth birth the new spring – the candles are helping to bring her some warmth.
You could extend this festival by also making new candles – Candlemas is traditionally the time in the eastern Church of blessing new candles. And, of course, one needn’t bring the Christian elements into this if this is not part of your family’s spiritual/religious life.
Posted on January 21, 2008 in Seasons and Festivals