I recently re-discovered this delightful book on my cookery book shelves...
Although it is indeed a recipe book, I decided not to put it back there, but to keep it on my bedroom bookshelves, as it is a really interesting, and pretty, reference book. Starting with St Catherine's Day on November 25th, it travels through the year giving details of mostly-forgotten celebrations and customs and handicrafts associated with them. The pages are filled with images of flora and fauna, artefacts and old photos - it's a treat to look at.
So what better, on a day when I'm otherwise lacking inspiration, than to share what I have gleaned about February 2nd?
Candlemas is the popular name for the feast of the Purification of St Mary the Virgin and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. After the traditional forty days of purification after the birth of a child, Mary presented Jesus at the temple, where Simeon said that He would be a 'Light to lighten the world'. February 2nd is the day the church's beeswax candle are blessed. Traditionally, a candle should be set to burn in every window of the church and in your home. If not enough candles were available, then it was considered most important to have one lit at the kitchen window.
|Lennox Inn Nova Scotia|
Candlemas coincides with the old Celtic feast of Imbolc - the day halfway between the Winter solstice and the Spring equinox. Imbolc marks the start of the lambing season and was presided over by the Celtic goddess of youth and fertility, Bride (who was re-named St Bridget, or 'Virgin Mary of the Celts').
The snowdrop is meant to appear for the first time on Candlemas day and its alternative name is the Candlemas Bell. Supposedly, after Candlemas Day it is no longer bad luck to bring snowdrops into the house. (Makes mental note in case of sudden interest in flower arranging next winter...)
Spring cleaning, and even the painting of the house, is long associated with Candlemas, especially in Ireland. St Brigid's Eve would see a supper of tea and boxty (a type of potato cake) prepared, the table laid with the best crockery and St Brigid, represented by a dressed sheaf of straw, welcomed into the house and placed on a chair close to the table while the meal was eaten.
Weather predictions were made at Candlemas.
'If Candlemas day be fair and bright,Winter will have another flight;
If on Candlemas day it be shower and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.'
Not too happy, then, that today is such a sunny day!
Finally, in case you're a little behind, if you didn't get your Christmas decorations down by Twelfth Night, today's the day to do it!