Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Candlemas challenge.....

A short while ago MrsCarlieLee suggested that we revive Candlemas - 'each do whatever, and then post it in a blog.  'Whadayareckon?' I quickly reckoned 'yep' - the word leaping off my fingers before I could sit on my hands. 

So here I am, sitting at the keyboard, mouth open, staring out of the window wondering what the heck I can say that hasn't already been said. (I wrote about this time of year in 2010 and not much has changed since then.) The days lengthen. The birds sing loudly and more often. The dull green snouts of bulbs push through icy soil, and here and there amongst tangled leaf and twig in the hedge bottom are snowdrops of virginial white. Etc. Etc. And this is as it should be.

We wonder how much longer winter will last  - February 2nd is after all the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox - theoretically we're halfway there though experience teaches that it would unwise to cast 'clouts' or do anything with tender plants until May, the tree or the month, is out.

Up on the hill the remains of last week's snow lingers, thin white lines in the lee of hedges, stippled patches amongst rough grass. It's bitterly cold out, the sun has gone down leaving a clear sky and the nearly-full moon has a bright face. If the old rhyme is to believed we've a way to go yet:

If Candlemass day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemass day be wet and foul,
The half o' winter's gave at Yule.'

Well today, Candlemas day, was fair and bright indeed - and weather lore would have it that there is more wintery weather to come. Would I rather that than mud and sludge? Probably.

We're looking forward to the coming of lighter days every bit as much as our ancestors did. For them this day was Imbolc, and a cornerstone of the Celtic calendar, celebrated with fire, a festival of light. 


Christianity reformed and renamed the festival and a tradition developed of blessing all the candles which would be needed for use in the church during the following year for Holy Communion. It also marks the Presentation of Christ in the Temple being 40 days after the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day....40 days being when according to Jewish law a woman was ritually purfied following the birth of a son.

The vicar, whom I quizzed,  hinted vaguely about a service in one of his churches but I'm not really a religious soul and while I quite like the idea of blessing candles and candlelit processions I prefer to keep my spiritual side to myself.

 
I lit a couple of candles though to mark the occasion and from up on the field could just spy them twinkling in the window. How warm it looks down there - and inviting. 

Scented too - the smell's divine.  The candle in the middle is a gift from our eldest son. I think of my boy, now a man,  as it burns. I have in my window light and now love. Blessings.

6 comments:

Pondside said...

I'm glad I can picture the field, and the window - the thoughtfulness of a son, the love and the gratitude way beyond the gift of a candle - love, indeed.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

In the endless February gloom , candles are very comforting .

Frances said...

Mountaineer, I greatly enjoyed reading this post and being reminded about the significance of Candlemas. I do not recall it being celebrated in the Episcopal church my family attended, but perhaps it's my memory that's faulty.

Anything that encourages candles in windows seems quite worthy to me!

It also seems as if our Groundhog Day must have its origins in Candlemas lore. Our New York groundhog did not see his shadow on our snowy, sleety day, so our chance of an early spring may have been enhanced.

xo

mrscarlielee said...

LOVE this paragraph -

Up on the hill the remains of last week's snow lingers, thin white lines in the lee of hedges, stippled patches amongst rough grass. It's bitterly cold out, the sun has gone down leaving a clear sky and the nearly-full moon has a bright face.

I'm so glad we had the Candlemas conversation - we ended up six of us for a lovely long dinner with lots of comfort food and candles and the stoves both on. Hurrah for Spring and the coming of the Light!

rachel said...

What a lovely post! And of course the candles - at their best, along with firelight, at this sometimes-bleak time of year.

And snowdrops coming - the best herald of Spring there is, no matter what foul weather will follow!

Zoë said...

Or Imbolc which preceded it all :-)