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Candlemas, Imbolc, Brigid's Day, Ground Hog Day, Mid-winter, Celebrate February 2nd.
Submitted by Pam on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 19:43
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!)
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.
Since they must be started very early, Iceland Poppies are planted in peat pots. And dreaming of the summer garden begins in earnest!
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.
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).
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!
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!