(Last year’s candles)
Today is Imbolc, or Candlemas, if you prefer. Some call it Oimelc; some call it the Feast of Saint Brigid. In the U.S. it’s most commonly called Groundhog Day. Today marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Today it’s a good day to divine the weather, a la Punxsutawney Phil, but this little fellow isn’t the first, by far, to do so.
“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will take another flight. If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain, Winter is gone and will not come again.”
Today is a great day to make or buy candles. Gather all of your candle stubs and bits and pieces and melt them down to make new candles by dipping or pouring into special candle molds. Winter has a good six weeks left to blow in most places in the Northern Hemisphere and that’s plenty of dark nights to light up.
(Photo from candle dipping at Sacramento Waldorf School last fall)
I have a small candle-oriented celebration planned for our family for tonight. Last year’s was simple, too. We’re going be decorating a “family candle” tonight, if I can get everyone to cooperate. I have in mind a beeswax candle decorated with more (colored) beeswax, with each of us adding pieces to it so that it becomes a representation of our family, our home, and our hopes. It’s my intention that we’ll keep lighting this family candle throughout the rest of the winter.
(Colorful beeswax bits like these can be molded by hand to make shapes, people, and other decorations, and will stick onto the side of a candle.)
In doing a bit of research, I’ve come to understand there’s a significant parallel between Brigid and Hestia, which infuses even more meaning for me into this winter festival. In the dark of winter, and even halfway through it, we must tend to our hearth fires and keep the lamps lighted. We must live, together, in close proximity and in peace as much as we are able. We need such unifying rituals to hold us and keep us safe together.
Today is a great day for a purge or cleaning—of things, of negative feelings, of anything that is needing letting go. Today is a great day to stoke your own inner light, so you may keep it burning brightly as we march toward Spring.
Here are two lovely discussions of this holiday. I hope you enjoy them.
Little Acorn Learning: Celebrating Candlemas (with Guest Blogger Marsha Johnson)