Yesterday marked Candlemas - and our family's first time observing it.
I was unsure at first if this would be something we would attempt to weave into our family traditions. Growing up a protestant, Candlemas - or what Christianity traditionally recognizes at Jesus' naming and presentation at the temple wasn't something I was overly familiar with. I don't recall any significant liturgical observances taking place to mark this day, and I even grew up as preacher's kid.
Still, the reading that I had done online intrigued me, so I asked several friends in the Waldorf community and several clergy friends their take on the day. Joy, over at An Art Family directed me to a fabulous website that addresses the various components of Candlemas, both its Christian and Pagan roots. School Of Seasons - Candlemas
Since becoming a mother I've felt an intensely strong pull connecting me to the changing of the seasons. The way spring becomes summer, summer becomes autumn and autumn becomes winter. Do all women experience this? This connectedness to the seasons, to the cycle of life? The renewal that occurs each year as seeds are planted, whispering their promise of bounty? It's life affirming really, this ever constant cycle - the knowledge that after the long cold winter spring is around the corner preparing to bless us.
It is in this vein that Candlemas holds the most interest for me. Yes, Candlemas is a Christian tradition certainly, but it also has roots (like many Christian traditions) in Paganism. There is the celebration Brigid, the Grain Goddess and goddess of fire and fertility. On her feast day, her statue was washed in the sea for purification and then carried through the wheat fields in a cart, surrounded by candles.
There was the spring festival in Armenia celebrating Mihr, the God of Fire. In ancient times fires were built in open places with a lantern burning in the temple all year to honor him. When Armenia became Christian, the fires were moved to church courtyards, the flames from which were hand carried to homes to light individual candles.
In this context we marked Candlemas in our own home, drawing from both Christian and Pagan traditions.
We made bread (in our bread machine - I was short on time) to honor Brigid. We lit our beeswax candles to honor both Mihr and the Christian tradition of bringing candles to the temple on February 2nd to be blessed - a time when Christianity says when Jesus was presented to the temple and recognized as "a light for revelation" by the prophet Simeon:
And we prepared bulbs and made final selections in our seed catalog for the spring plantings:
However you marked February 2 - whether it be Groundhogs Day, observing Jesus' presentation to the Temple, or celebrating the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox I hope your day was wonderful and full of meaning.
Yours in renewal,