Simple Preparations for Candlemas

wintercandles

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

Candlemas, Imbolc, or Brigid’s Day is celebrated February 2nd (the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox). It is a traditional Spring festival that marks the end of Winter and the return of the Light, who in ancient times was personified by the Celtic Goddess, Brigit. The Pagan version of this same festival is called Imbolc and was traditionally a time to bless and prepare for the spring sowing and planting.From a Christian perspective Candlemas commemorates the day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple, forty days after his birth. Jesus is lovingly referred to as the “Light of the World” or the “Bringer or Light”. Hence, the association with lighting candles and spreading the light.

Rhymes and verses such as the one above also added an element of weather prediction to the festival and in keeping with this weather lore, many Canadians and Americans know the 2nd of February as “Groundhog Day”.  If it is overcast and grey when a groundhog emerges then Spring will come early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its hole and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.

Creating a Candlemas Tradition in your Family

If you are interested in creating a space in your home for Candlemas festivities, below are some of the ways you can come together to celebrate. Some themes associated with this festival include the coming of the light and sunshine, Spring cleaning, cleansing, fresh starts and new beginnings. Don’t feel as though you need to take all of these rituals on, instead choose only one or two to mark the festival and each year add to it if you feel so inspired.

  • make pancakes or crepes for breakfast- symbolising the return of the golden, round sun
  • clean the fireplace of ashes
  • wash the sheets and linens and spray with essential oils
  • simplify your environment- go room to room and declutter and separate things into three piles: storage, give away and trash
  • throw left-over Christmas greenery and Yuletide decorations away or burn them in a fire
  • children can shine wooden toys with beeswax or olive oil and a little cotton cloth
  • children can shine metalware with lemon juice or baking soda
  • children can help sweep and mop with small brooms and mops
  • family members can each roll or decorate a beeswax candle to light that evening
  • the family can have a candlelit dinner or a candlelit story in the evening
  • each family member could write (or draw) a wish or hope for the coming Spring and then throw the paper into the flames of a fire to seal the wish
  • children can plant bulbs or seeds inside and watch them grow
  • children can have a cleansing bath, wash hair, cut nails and be given a warming massage with oil

Finally, I believe this is also a beautiful time for Mamas or carers to spark up their “inner life” and “inner work” and to check in with where you are at-  are you getting a little bit of time each day to do what fills you up (this could be exercise, meditation, journalling or artistic work)? If you’re looking for some direction, may I recommend the beautiful and meditation from Rudolf Steiner’s ‘Calendar of the Soul’ and is called the Pure Rays of Light Meditation.

Sending warmth, love and above all LIGHT to you and yours this Candlemas.

Meagan

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

4 Comments

  1. Chiara on February 7, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Meagan, I found your website only recently. I am on my quest of bringing a Steiner approach to our family, which is not always easy. One of the difficulties comes from the fact that we moved in your opposite direction, from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere, and I simply cannot understand how to adjust festivities like Candlemas, for example. Most of them are linked to the date, Christmas, Easter, Michaelmas and St Martin, and we keep them like that. Equinoxes and solstices are in the opposite date. But Candlemas and May pole? May pole 6 months after, would be on the 1st of November, when my family in Italy goes to the cemetery to remember who is not with us anymore. It would be a little strange, I suppose… any suggestion?
    Thank you for your time
    Chiara

    • Meagan on February 8, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Chiara, This is exactly the challenge I faced when I loved to the Southern Hemisphere 10 years ago. The guides I created were originally only written for the Southern Hemisphere to create a solution to many of these “problems” (for lack of a better word). The Southern Hemisphere Autumn Guide contains Autumn Easter Stories. I created a Candlemas celebration that begins to honour the Harvest. But to be honest, the missing link here, I feel, is that we are not honouring the true history of Australia (or Souther America or wherever in the Southern Hemisphere you are) land and the traditional festivals that they celebrated long ago. Their voices, stories and unique relationship with the seasons and land have been (mostly brutally) lost. I think it is the responsibility of all of us, especially educators, to try to actively re-focus on these things instead of trying to fit only force a European-based festivals into a very different mould. Perhaps then we can come up with an authentic way to celebrate our own family’s cultural history but also to honour the land on which we are celebrating and the original people who were the first to celebrate there.

      • Deb on February 1, 2018 at 5:57 pm

        Oh Meagan, this is such a beautiful reply! We live not only in Australia but in the north of wet-dry tropics. Owing to this we do not have 4 seasons and are unable to even “flip” the NH seasonal festival year around. But this has led our family on a beautiful journey of creating new festivals and traditions, honouring a few fun ones from my own childhood in the UK and taking a journey into local Indigenous knowledge to celebrate the changes of season throughout the year. It is a journey I feel honoured to have taken and I am so glad my life led me along this path! xxx

  2. Justine on January 23, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Hello! I enjoyed this post, but I was hoping this post would have the instructions for those beautiful candles in the photo! I know how to pour the t-lights, but I was wondering how the designs were made?! Any thoughts?

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