Candlemas Is Coming!

Candlemas is on February 2 and celebrates the beginning of the lengthening of the days, and in some traditions is considered the beginning of spring.   It is my understanding that this day is also halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.   This festival began in pre-Christian times as a Celebration of Lights and of the Celtic goddess Brigit (February 1st).  Candlemas  takes its name from the blessing of the candles on this day for use in the church throughout the coming year.  It is also a celebration within the church of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple to Simeon and the elderly widow Anna.   In the Catholic Church, I believe this is also celebrated as the Feast of Purification (of Mary).   This is now also a celebration of Saint Brigid and also a time where we look to the hibernating animals to come out and see if it is winter and whether or not we will have an early Spring.  This is also a traditional time of  preparation  of the fields for later planting. 

In the book “All Year Round” by Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marije Rowling it says, “At the beginning of February, when the infant light of spring is greeted thankfully by the hoary winter earth, it seems fitting that we should celebrate a candle Festival to remember that moment when the Light of the World was received into the Temple, when the old yielded to the new.”

For children under the age of 7, the celebration of the festivals is not in the verbal explanation of the day, but the doing.  An answer to a very small child’s question of  why we do this or that for many festivals is just that we do!  As a child approaches seven, there can be more explanation for the reasons behind things, but please do not spoil the magic and mystery of the festival by all the history.

Here are some ways that Waldorf families celebrate Candlemas:

One would be to think of goals and things you would like to see happen in this New Year together, in this time of new beginnings, as the earth becomes Spring again and do something to celebrate that.

Of course, the major activity is usually candle-making in some form – rolling candles, candle dipping, making earth candles outside in the ground and lighting them.  Some families have their candles blessed on this day.

Some families celebrate by tilling a garden plot for March planting.

You could  have dinner in candlelight.

Marsha Johnson over at waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com recommends making and eating fresh bread, vegetable soup or vegetable chowder and baked custards as your Candlemas meal.  Recipes can be found in the FILES section of her yahoo group.

We can also offer simply made stories and poems about our friends the bees and work with beeswax and honey in some way during this festival.

In the United States, this is also of course Groundhog Day and many families celebrate by going to a groundhog day event.

Some families tell stories about Brigid or read the picture book about Brigid and her cloak.  You can also search for Brigid’s crosses on-line and make those as a craft; they are very distinctive-looking.

Some families have a bonfire on this day.

These are just some suggestions I have read or heard through other families.  If you celebrate Candlemas in your family, please do leave a comment and tell everyone how you celebrate this day…Help someone new to this festival get started!

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10 thoughts on “Candlemas Is Coming!

  1. We eat sun crepes in the morning and integrate some pancake flipping games in our circle time (with thick cardboard pancakes in a little pan). We have a candlelight dinner and do the rest of our night-time routine by candlelight.

    We celebrate St. Brigid on another day by baking two braids of bread.

  2. We tend to make felt snowdrops – really easy to make with scraps of white and dark green felt and a pipecleaner – to decorate the seasonal table with.

    Baked custards sound nice – I love making ‘proper’ custard, although I am suffering of late from eating dairy and really have to look at my diet again as I’ve been lax and eating far too many things that my stomach doesn’t tolerate :(

  3. Hi, I cannot find a picture book about Brigid or any simple stories or poems for my 4 1/2 and very curious 5 1/2. would you have any suggestions?

    • I have seen several religious books about St. Brigid, one in particular through Amazon as I recall, but I have never seen them in person so I don’t know if that would be exceptionally appropriate for small children. Why not make up a story about Brigid for your children? Something very simple involving light. I believe there is an example in Melisa Nielsen’s “Before the Journey”….
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  4. Hi Carrie!
    This is a very informative post – thank you :)
    OT – is there a place on your site where I can ask you a question unrelated to a post?
    Thank you for all your articles; they are so considerate and helpful and I enjoy them with all my heart!
    Kristin

  5. Pingback: The Quiet Beauty of Candlemas « The Parenting Passageway

  6. We celebrated for the 1st time this year by making candles together. We poured some into glass votive jars and then made some floating candles by pouring our melted beeswax into holes we made in the snow. We then put our store of candles away for the coming year and used the candle my son made at school for our dinner. Bring on the light!

  7. Last year with my 3 year old, we made snow candles (poured melted wax from our candle stubs in holes in the snow) and enjoyed the interesting shapes they made. We burned them on our dinner table the next few nights and had pancakes for supper. This year, I am thinking jar candles will have to be the way we go since snow is not in the forecast and we haven’t any good sandy soil and dipping isn’t safe enough for my 4 year old yet.
    I think we’ll also include a story of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple as another Epiphany and deepening expression/revelation of light.

  8. Brilliant post, as usual Carrie, with some fantastic ideas for celebration. Thank you. Your blog is such a valuable resource :) All Blessings xxxx

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