Candlemas - midpoint to season

2017-02-01 06:01

CANDLEMAS Day, on 2 February, is an ancient festival that marks the midpoint of winter (in the northern hemisphere) as it is halfway between the shortest day, and the spring equinox.

It is a traditional Christian festival of lights which commemorates the ritual purification of Mary, 40 days after the birth of her son Jesus.
In pre-Christian times the day was known as the “feast of lights” and celebrated the strength of the sun as winter gave way to spring in the northern hemisphere.

On this day all the candles to be used during the year in the church were brought to be blessed. In those days candles were vital to the people, with some people believing they gave protection against plague, illness and famine.

In ancient Roman times candles were lit to scare away evil spirits in the winter.

In Scotland, Candlemas was the day when children took candles to school so that classrooms would have light on dull days. As time went on and gas lighting took over from candlelight, the children took money to their teacher to spend it on sweets and cakes. A Candlemas king and queen were declared, who for six weeks, could make a whole afternoon a week playtime and let any fellow pupil off punishment.

It was believed that a bright sunny Candlemas day meant there was more winter to come, whereas a wet stormy day meant that the worst of the winter was over.

A reminder - traditionally Christmas decorations should be taken down by the 12th day (5 January), but if you forgot they should be left up and removed on Candlemas Day.

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