celebrating candlemas – 2nd february
The Festival of Candlemas falls on the 2nd February. After the darkest time of the year there is now a promise of Spring and return of the Light, days are getting longer. Candlemas falls at the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. A day to gather the light of the Christmas festive season and give it back to the Earth. Candlelight to warm the Earth and encourage that which has been lying dormant and sleeping during winter to sprout and grow.
“Candlemas Day takes its name from the blessing of candles on this day for use in the church throughout the coming year. It is the feast of the presentation of the Christ in the Temple when Simeon hailed him as “A light to lighten the Gentiles”. Christians used to light candles for Baby Jesus and Mother Mary and perhaps that is why in some areas today the snowdrops which are very much in evidence at this season are known as Candlemas Bells or Mary’s Tapers” from Festivals Family & Food
The ancient Celtic and Gaelic traditional festival of Imbolc falls on the 1 February. The original word coming from the meaning of ‘in the belly’ – all is pregnant and expectant and only just visible; the promise of renewal, of Earth awakening, hidden potential and life-forces stirring.
This festival also coincides with an old belief that hibernating animals (in England the badger, in America the groundhog) would wake and see if winter was over – a sunny day meant the animals would be frightened by their shadows and return to their hibernation for another 40 days – if cloudy, they would stay above ground and an early spring was predicted. Hence the day is known in USA and Canada as Groundhog Day.
Candlemas is a beautiful festival worth marking each year. If January has been hard on you, stay strong and hang on to your hopes and wishes for the year ahead. Light a candle on Candlemas Day, and rekindle your resolutions, welcome the returning light and witness re-birth and new beginnings in nature all around us.
“Candle, candle burning brightWinter’s halfway done tonight,With a-glowing we are knowing,Spring will come again”Candlemas Verse, The Waldorf Book of Poetry
Many families mark the day with making homemade candles, having an evening meal by candlelight and telling stories and playing games such as Shadow in the Woods (see below).
It’s a lovely family tradition at this time, and helps build family rhythms, to make some of your very own candles in preparation for Candlemas, and you can then fill your table with their glowing light in celebration.
candle dipping kit
This Candle Dipping Kit has everything you need so you can make your very own candles from deliciously honey-scented pure beeswax. It comes with 600mg beeswax granules, wick and a dipping tin filled with the beeswax to get you going. You simply melt the wax in the dipping tin in a pan of hot water, and then repeatedly dip the provided lengths of wick in until your candle has grown enough. This is an easy and heartwarming craft for young children under adult supervision and a really lovely activity to do as a family at Candlemas time.
You can even save all your old candle stubs throughout the year to all melt in the dipping tin to make new candles, here below was a D.I.Y. version we tried with melting old beeswax candle stubs – a little pear-shaped but still worked beautifully!
beeswax candle rolling
These deliciously honey-scented Pure Beeswax Honeycomb Sheets Candle Kit make really easy and beautiful candles by just rolling them! An easy and fun craft even for young children. You can make different sizes, shapes and spiralling candles too by how you cut the wax sheet before rolling. The Candle Kit contains 3 pure beeswax sheets, full instructions and wicks.
The Shadow in the Woods board game is perfect to play at Candlemas! Really atmospheric to play in a darkened room in these dark, winter evenings with just the candlelight from the candle in the game.
A co-operative game for children 5 years and up, requiring the help of an adult to move the candle. The object of the game is for the Gnomes to unite under one tree and only move in the shadows. The candle tries to find the Gnomes and freeze them with its light. A second co-operative game on the board’s reverse is for children age 7 years and up. Here the candle is stationary, and the gnomes must move through the shadows and jump over the light. For 2-8 players.
Our co-operative games have simple themes that interest children and will encourage a healthy attitude towards working together and listening! They teach logic, consultation, decision making and creative thinking. Why compete when you can co-operate?
pure beeswax candles
Pure beeswax candles give a special warm glow, purify the air and emit a wonderful honey scent that only beeswax can deliver! The beeswax candles on the left are made from the Candle Rolling Kit. The candles on the right are beautifully handcrafted in a community supporting adults with special needs in Germany. The candles are hand dipped in pure beeswax that will naturally burn for a long time. The different sizes shown are the Dinner Candle, Tapered Candle (which in a Brass Holder fits the Birthday Rings and Shapes), Tealight Candle and amazing Pillar Candle, all perfect for Candlemas celebrations.
You can also make a special Earth Candle outdoors to celebrate – by melting together the leftover wax stumps from Christmas in a dip in the ground and lighting while singing or saying a special Candlemas verse (like the one featured above). Lovely to do as a community or group activity.
suggested seasonal reading
We love these stories to read to children at this time of year:
- The Story of the Root Children
- The Story of Persephone from Greek Mythology, found in Festivals, Family and Food book
- St Brigid/St Bride’s Story – celebrated traditionally in Ireland on the 1st February for the beginning of early Spring.
- The story of the pagan Goddess Brigid – Goddess of Healing, Poetry, Smithcraft, of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth – she brings fertility to the land and its people. Read about her in The Children’s Forest.
With our journal posts and social media posts on festivals of the year, Myriad wishes to share ideas that can inspire families and other groups to add richness to their lives. We are inspired by communities that share the Anthroposophical impulse, such as Waldorf education. The festivals we partake in and share ideas about may contain elements from different spiritual streams that interweave to give us spiritual nourishment today. Myriad do not wish to suggest any particular stream is better or more important than any other, or exclude, or relegate. We want to share festival traditions that we believe will support, encourage and reinforce our connection to nature and to something much greater than ourselves. We believe the terrain is the same for all of us, we just use different ‘maps’. As Rudolf Steiner said “Love is higher than opinion”. We hope that the ‘universal truths’ that radiate through many traditions can be recognised, thereby enriching us culturally and spiritually.