February 2 is Candlemas also known as Imbolc, Imbolg, Bridig, Brigit, and the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
Originally this holiday was of mostly Celtic and northern European origins. This was the time of year when the milk began flowing again after the birth of the baby goats. It was a time when the light was growing stronger and we celebrated the waxing sun as the light of spring becomes visible through the chill of winter.
In Ireland they celebrate Saint Brigid, the midwife and foster mother of Jesus Christ at this time of year. In the Eastern Orthodox Church this holiday is known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. In the gospel of Luke, chapter two we read the story of Joseph and Mary presenting the baby Jesus at the Temple 40 days after his birth, which was the custom at the time.
They offered two turtle doves and two young pigeons for a sacrifice. Simeon, the Righteous, assesses baby Jesus at this time and prophesieds of the redemption of the world brought forth by Christ. A prophetess named Anna also makes similar prophesies.
Saint Brigid became associated with this holiday when Christianity reached Ireland. Saint Brigid was the daughter of a pagan chief. She grew up to become one of the only female Bishops (or Abesses) of the early church. She is called Brigid, Brigit, Bride, Abbess of Kildare, midwife of Christ, Mary of the Gael and Noamh Brid. She founded a school for art and metal work during her life. She was tied into this holiday as the midwife of Jesus and foster mother of our Lord. Her sacred flame is still tended in Kildare to this day.
Candlemas is a time of many things and can be celebrated many ways. It is a time when the ground is awakening after it's long winter's nap. It is a time of purification and renewal. Some people remove their Christmas decoration this day. Fire, candle making, sacred flames, bowls of fresh cream and milk, colors of red and orange as well as Brigid dolls made from straw are all festive and traditional ways to mark this day.
Here are some of the ways we celebrate this day.
Dancing out in nature to awaken the ground and the seeds
Since Saint Brigid is associated with art we often do a lot of painting on this day. Here are our fire paintings done with tumeric and red food coloring.
Here Nykki paints with the juice of a blood orange
Baby Ronan paints on his first Candlemas
We used our fire paintings to add quotes from Luke 2 to our nature table
She's not made of straw but here's a picture of a Brigid doll we made a few years back.
Candle lit dinner with homemade tomato soup
Creating center pieces with candles and herbs
This year's center piece. We collected all our candles we have used this year and bunched them together. The small white one in the middle was the vigil candle we got at Winter Solstice at the Spiral Dance. The flame we used to light it had come from Saint Brigid's sacred flame in Kildare!
"... a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people of Israel." Luke 2:32
"The thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2:35
"...and the child grew, and waxed strong in the spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him." Luke 2:40