Halfway between the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and the spring equinox, February 2nd is celebrated as Candlemas. During the days when there were no electric lights, Candlemas was a festival of hope for light.
It was a festival during which candles were blessed in hope that there would be enough candlelight to make it through the dark nights of the remaining winter days.
On February 2nd all the candles, which were used by the early Christian church and candles from people’s homes, were brought into the church. Then, during a special festival or mass, a priest said a prayer of blessing over them; thus, the name Candlemas.
Within the Christian community, Candlemas is also known as The Festival of Lights. The Festival of Lights is celebrated as the time of Mary’s purification and the presentation of Jesus at the temple, forty days after his birth.
Candlemas is still celebrated in many churches and countries around the world. In Poland, the candles brought from home are decorated with symbols and ribbons.
In Poland Candlemas is called “Mother of God Who Saves Us From Thunder,” Swieto Matki Boskiej Gromnicznej. In Hungary Candlemas is called the “Blessing of the Candle of the Happy Woman,” Gyertyazsenteio Boidog Asszony. In Germany, it is Lichtmess, and in France it is La Chandeleur Fete de la Lumiere.
Romans and Celts regarded February as the start of spring. February comes from februa, which means cleansing or purification, and Candlemas became known as the time of the washing of the earth’s face.
People in Western Europe believed that Candlemas was the time when the ground first awakened. On Candlemas, they prepared their fields for the first planting and later impregnation of seed.
Because Candlemas has always been associated with fire, some people celebrate the Candlemas tradition of cleaning out their fireplaces, lighting a new fire, and sitting around the fireplace and discussing their hopes for the coming year.
Traditionally, Candlemas is a time of new beginnings…a time to celebrate all things new. It is the dawn of the year, the time of germination.
Candlemas is a time to hope, dream, and live with expectancy of renewal. What are your hopes and dreams? What do you expect to be renewed in your life?
If you received Kate Kresse’s Candlelighter’s Award, take another look at it and what the award represents. Bless your Candlelighter Award and the light within you.
May you be blessed with light throughout the rest of the winter and the coming year. May light shine in, through, and around you. May you be a light in someone’s darkness.
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