Fair warning! Any Christmas decorations not taken down by twelfth night should be left up and taken down on Candlemas!
Snowdrops are considered unlucky if brought into the house before Candlemas day, representing a parting or death. However, they are a symbol of this day and are now fair game for interior boquets. These photos were taken this morning of a few of the thousands of these little charmers that I inherited with my current garden.
They're not quite open yet which puts them behind many I've seen on blogs from colder parts of the country.
Candlemas marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is also 40 days after the celebration of Christmas (only 325 shopping days left.) In Judaism and orthodox Christianity, women undergo a ritual purification 40 days after giving birth. Sons are also presented at the temple at this time. Therefore, this day is celebrated in some faith communities as the ritual purification of Mary, the presentation of the child Christ at the temple, and Jesus' first entry into the temple. In some traditions, all candles to be used in church during the year were blessed on this day.
There is also a superstition that the weather on this day would dictate the weather for the next six weeks, the remainder of winter.
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
winter will not come again.
If Candlemas Day be dry and fair,
The half o the Winter to come and mair;
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul,
The half o the winter's gane at Yule.
The following medieval Anglo-Saxon plowing charm, recorded by Pamela Berger in her book, The Goodess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint, was said by the farmer while cutting the first furrow.
Whole be thou Earth
Mother of men.
In the lap of God,
Be thous as-growing.
Be filled with fodder
For fare-need of men.
The farmer then took a loaf of bread, kneaded it with milk and holy water and laid it under the first furrow, saying:
Acre full fed,
Bring forth fodder for men!
And the God who wrought the ground,
Grant us the gifts of growing,
That the corn, all the corn,
may come unto our need.
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 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
More interesting information about Candlemas can be found here and here One of these sources suggests that a ritual purification for this day might be to clean one's home, removing dust and remnants of things past. I had to stop reading at that point because just the thought of cleaning my house made me tired. It's only truly a home if you can write "I love you" in the dust!
In the U.S. the tradition of relying on a large rodent to predict the weather for the next six weeks was brought to us by German and English folk. In England and Germany, the animal that comes out of hibernation on this day is the badger. In America, this role is assigned to the groundhog (or woodchuck), a relatively solitary, burrowing animal.
Tenacious snowdrops so eager to live that they even spring up and multiply in interstices between pavers and here in the concrete steps in front of the house.
For more on Groundhog day go here .
This morning, there was a blanket of fog when I set out to snap some pictures of snowdrops, the floral emblem of the day, so our groundhog wouldn't see and be frightened by his shadow so the rest of winter in this area should be mild. I hope the rest of your winter is delightful and if you live in the other hemisphere where you're still experiencing summer, I hope it's not too hot!