On February 2nd, it’s time to celebrate Candlemas.
February 2 is the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.
Pre-Christian Celtic cultures celebrated this time of year by holding ceremonies to bless the spring planting. It’s also known as Imbolic. Imbolc is a melting pot mixture of Celtic, Roman, and Christian traditions — and even briefly mention a few holidays not from Europe, such as Setbun, the Japanese Bean Throwing and Lantern Festival; Li Chum, the Chinese Spring Festival; and Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colour. Pretty amazing, isn’t it – how all people’s of the world find their unique ways to celebrate and recognize the change of seasons.
Since Candlemas is a time of new beginnings, this is a good day to ritually celebrate all things new. Plan a ceremony to name a new baby, officially welcome a new person into a family or plight your troth to your beloved. Make a commitment to a goal (like a New Years resolution): this would be an especially powerful thing to do in a group.
If you plan your own ceremony, use these two powerful symbols: fire and water. For instance, wash your hands and bathe your face in salt water, which is especially good for purification. Light a candle as you make your pledge. Incorporate the third symbol of the holiday — seeds — by planting a seed or bulb in a pot to symbolize your commitment, or by blessing a bowl or packet of seeds that you will plant later.
You don’t have to be Catholic to gain spiritual benefits from the voluntary surrender of something you cherish. You can give up something frivolous or something serious, but it should be something you will notice. Folk wisdom says it takes six weeks (or approximately the 40 days of Lent) to establish a new habit, so you may end up with a lifestyle change.
Since Candlemas is often considered the beginning of spring, you can perform another ritual act of purification: spring cleaning. This would be a good time to do a thorough house cleaning, sweeping the floors with salt water, banishing the gloom of winter and creating a sparkling, shiny new setting for spring.
Every year, within a week of Feb 2nd, we can notice increasing light and increasing birdsong.
From the dawn of humankind, people have engaged in rituals and activities to mark this halfway point. The European tradition became know as Candlemas, a time to make candles, bless candles and be thankful for no longer having to rise by candlelight!
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