Candlemas, Imbolc, Brigid's Day, Ground Hog Day, Mid-winter, Celebrate February 2nd.

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We have made it! The darkest days of winter are behind us!

The mid-way point between the winter solstice and spring equinox will be celebrated by many in the northern hemisphere tomorrow - on February 2nd.

This truly special day, known as Ground Hog Day, Candlemas, Imbolc, Brigid's Day or mid-winter has been marked with special celebrations and traditions since ancient times. At the end of the post you can find links that will enlighten you further as to the history and customs.

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I am indebted to blogger Denise - "mom in madison" - for first introducing me to the celebrations and mystery of February 2nd, which up until that time I had dismissed as Ground Hog Day - ho hum.

She set me on a path of discovery resulting in lovely traditions now firmly planted in my celebration calendar! I am sharing my celebrations here with the hope that many of you will be inspired to find your own ways to mark this very significant "quarter day" of the earth's yearly journey around the sun.

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By planting a pot of Paperwhite bulbs sometime near the winter solstice, I begin my celebration in anticipation of the open blossoms in the top image. This picture was taken about mid-January to mark their progress. Right on cue - tiny white flower buds began opening yesterday!

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First thing in the morning, coffee in hand, I search the garden looking for signs of spring. Look what I found hidden under the ferns! Helebore buds!

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Image by the Pickled Herring

Then back inside to a warm kitchen to prepare pancakes - grain foods are traditionally eaten to mark this day. Since ancient times, farmers have considered this day as the proper time to begin preparing the fields for spring sowing.

This year - Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries - the recipe here on the Pickled Herring.

BrigidCross

I have been making a Brigid Cross every year, but now that I have three displayed all year long on my walls, I will simply take time to thank Brigid, the goddess of creative inspiration and fertility by placing a small sprig of lavender on her crosses. (Yes, the French Lavender in my garden is still green!)

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My burlap table runner interwoven with wheat shafts is laid out on the dining table and white candles are placed in a wire wreath.

Then out to the garden to clip branches from plants that remain green all winter: rosemary, ivy, holly and grape ivy. These are added to the wreath as a reminder that in a few short weeks now, the first signs of spring will begin emerging from winter beds.

(Instructions for making the large candle here.)

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Since they must be started very early, Iceland Poppies are planted in peat pots. And dreaming of the summer garden begins in earnest!

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Fire and water are important elemental symbols to be included in celebrating "mid-winter".

Fire represents the sun already making it's way northward on it's return to the northern hemisphere, and water represents purification and renewal which originated with ancient holy wells named for Brigid.

My little garden pond is dedicated to Brigid and at dusk, candles are floated on the surface and lit in her honor.

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And then at dark, all candles in the house are lit. This is the only day of the year I light the candle sconce I made from tin cans (and dedicated to Brigid).

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Although for some this day traditionally marks the beginning of "spring house cleaning", at my house that "tradition" is delayed until early March.

February is my month to focus on thankfulness - baking over 100 dozen cookies to give to the amazing people and wedding sites who refer to us most of our wedding business - and - devoting the blog to thanking and featuring the many bloggers and online friends who have given me the gift of friendship and inspiration through the past year.

A couple short Valentine posts, and then beginning February 7th and through the rest of the month I hope you will join me to celebrate these very special people.

In the meantime here are some great links to how to find your own celebration!

My most favorite presentation of all traditions associated with Feb. 2nd.

Additional links can be found attached to these  previous posts:  Imbolc, Brigid's Day and Candlemas  and Candle Wreath for Imbolc

Cyn shares very detailed information on her post The Feast of St. Brigid on her blog My View of Reality.

And this lovely post by Georgene Lockwood - sharing how she celebrates and what she has learned about February 2nd on her blog Romancing the Everyday.

Georgene inspired me to add the Paperwhites to my celebration in this post last February!

Happy February 2nd, Imbolc, Candlemas, St. Brigid's Day, mid-winter - oh - and Ground Hog Day!

So, here it is February 19

So, here it is February 19 and I am coming back to this post to tell you how much it spoke to me. I've been thinking about it since I read it. I don't know what makes it stand out so much, but it does. Maybe it is because I suffer so much fatigue in February (who knew I had D uptake issues? I lived in So Cal until I was 42!) or maybe it was dealing with all the broken bones this winter (3 kids, 4 broken bones since November 20), or maybe it is just married single mom fatigue, but your post renewed my spirit in these grey days. So, for now, I have a note on my calendar to plant paperwhites at Christmas and I'm looking at other ways I can prepare myself for the doldrums next February.

Thanks you!

Erin, reading your beautiful

Erin, reading your beautiful and heartfelt comment this morning made me want to celebrate "Mid-winter" all over again!  Life at my house has been quite hectic in the days since and now that things have returned to a more normal pace, it is a good time to renew and again celebrate the coming spring! 

At the very least, I am going hunting for new shoots and buds in the garden and lighting candles in Brigid's fountain.

I am delighted to know you will be joining me in celebrating next February!

 

I had no idea that Groundhog

I had no idea that Groundhog day was also a midwinter celebration. I find it very interesting. I definitely want to explore the links in your post. I like the idea of celebrating mid winter. I am not a fan of Valentines day and Groundhog day is a non event to me.

Daphne !  Thank you!  I am so

Daphne !  Thank you!  I am so happy to hear this! There really IS a cause for celebration in early February!  I am glad you are thinking of joining in!

What a lovely and peaceful

What a lovely and peaceful blog post! it was such a pleasant and calming read. thank you:)

Thank you Debbie!  Now that

Thank you Debbie!  Now that you have pointed it out, celebrating mid-winter truly IS a calming and peaceful experience.  No shopping!  No baking!  No decorating really! No rush!  And as far as I am concerned, no real deadline!  Celebrate any day that suits you in the very beginning of February!

 

I am so glad you enjoyed the post.

Your life seems so rich and

Your life seems so rich and filled with thankfulness Pam. The only celebrating I do in February (aside from Valentine's Day) is to take frequent walks out in our Canadian weather. Walks always get me in a thankful, celebratory mood for some reason. But you know, I like the idea of adopting a new tradition (like Brigid's Day) and thinking about what it means historically, and maybe learning to better appreciate these long dark winter days.

Thanks for oh-so-lovely post. That candle is a stunner!

Oh thank you Michele.  I am

Oh thank you Michele.  I am thrilled that so many readers have written and indicated that they will be adopting a new tradition to celebrate Feb. 2nd.

I have been wracking my brain for two years trying to think of a material other than wheat to make a Brigid's Cross.  If anyone in the whole wide world can come up with a brilliant solution, it would be you!

I took a walk in one of my

I took a walk in one of my cherished places and saw the first skunk cabbages of the year--a sight that lifts my heart. Thank you very much for sharing your celebration and making all these connections for me--I had not thought about the day's significance in the turning of the year. It is my mom's birthday as well, so it makes for a happy confluence of things to celebrate.

You do realize, Patricia,

You do realize, Patricia, that in the future, I will not be able to spy a skunk cabbage without thinking of you!!!!  Love that I am not alone in my appreciation for these beautiful plants.

Valentines Day is a somewhat manufactured day. So for me personally, finding ways to celebrate mid-winter is a much more authentic way to share in the centuries old traditions and celebrations that have reminded mankind of his vunerability to nature and and his connection to mother earth.

Happy Birthday to your mother!  What a great day to arrive on earth!

Very interesting! Love the

Very interesting! Love the idea of the cookies! WOW!!! That's a LOT of cookies!

It IS a lot of cookies! 

It IS a lot of cookies!  While I don't particularly get excited about decorating and frosting cookies I am a cookie baking monster!  I love baking cookies! "COOOOKIEEEES"!

Dear Pam Thanking you for

Dear Pam

Thanking you for sharing this lovely traditions, unfortunattelly in Portugal (I believe) there is nothing like but I can tell you that winter is far from being over as we expect to have tomorrow -4 ºC which for us is very very very very cold (usually our temperatures do not go below 8-10 ºC).
I will not plant my bulbes outside but I promise I will think of yours wonderfull plants near my very warm fireplace.

Christina!  I am so glad to

Christina!  I am so glad to hear from you!  The paperwhites were actually planted in the house - too cold for outside bulbe here as well.

We have a bright sunny day here and my sweetie tells me it is too warm for a fire, so maybe I can join you?

Wow it's all so beautiful! I

Wow it's all so beautiful! I was bringing in groceries the other day and it's been so much like Spring outside that on a whim I checked the bulb beds and sure enough a few of the early tulips were peeking out of the ground already!

Now you have made me really

Now you have made me really regret not getting tulips planted last fall!

You be sure to share pictures with your tulipless friend this spring!  Please!

in Italy we have a particular

in Italy we have a particular tradition for today (2nd february).
Today is a feast called "candelora" (the feast of candles). A proverb says:
-if today is sunny, winter is finished
- if today is rainy and windy, winter will be with us for other 40 days

Tomorrow we will use the candles in a particular way.
On 3rd february we go to the church, when the priest puts two crossed candles on our throats. This is a special blessing, it has the purpose to move away flu and other illness of respiratory system. We say that Saint Biagio sends the blessing and we have also a popular proverb about this ("San Biagio benedice la gola e il naso").
And we eat a piece of panettone, the traditional XMas cake, saved from Xmas for today.

Please, don't think italian people are strange! :D

Never, ever would I think

Never, ever would I think Italian people are strange!  I do believe there are a great many customs and traditions unknown to me and I am eager to learn of them so I thank you so much for taking the time to share this description of the traditions of February 2nd and 3rtd.

Candlemas as it is called in England and America is an improtant day in the Catholic Chruch and candles are blessed by the priests.  So we are not all that dissimilar!

Panettone?  Really?  OMG Silvia!  I still have some in the freezer!  I am pulling it out right this minute!  You and I shall share a bite of Panettone today!

Well, you may be indebted to

Well, you may be indebted to Denise, but I'm grateful to *you*!! What wonderful descriptions, and great variety of links to further explore this marvelous time of year.

I was also of the "Groundhog Day, ho-hum" school of thought, having no idea there was so much rich symbolism and history to be celebrated. It's cold, damp and foggy in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Northern California) today, but lighting some candles and honoring Brigid will make things much cozier.

Thank you Lynda!  You made my

Thank you Lynda!  You made my day!  I am so happy to hear you will be joining me in celebrating!

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