Monday, 31 January 2011

February 2nd-Candlemas/Imbolc

"When candlemas day is bright with sun
then the winter has just begun
When candlemas day is dark with rain
then winter's power is on the wane."

The wheel of the year turns once more and the end of winter is in sight. Imbolc, most commonly observed on February 2nd, marks the beginning of the end of winter's grasp. It is now that we start making our plans for this springs' garden, we tend to our animals' young, and we start to feel stirrings of new life just beneath the snow's surface.

Imbolc is one of the great fire festivals ~ to celebrate the birth of spring and warmth. It's tradition for pagans to light copious amounts of candles and incense around the home. It is the perfect time of year to recommit yourself to your faith, goals, and dreams.

Candlemas is a very old holiday with a Christian-Pagan history. Its Christian version is called the Purification of the Virgin and is the end/culmination of the forty day period after Mary had her baby on December 25.  (Women had to wait forty days after childbirth before entering a church or Temple again due to "uncleanliness"). This waiting period is still observed in Eastern Orthodox Christian churches today, and all Christian churches schedule the Christening for forty days after the birth in keeping with this ancient purification practice. Therefore today is Jesus's Christening or Naming Day when an exorcism is performed and the baby formally enters the Church.
Candlemas is the Christianized name for Imbolc, but the two are used almost interchangeably by many earth-based groups such as Wiccans today. Groundhog Day is a secularized term, but it draws from a Pagan tradition.
Imbolc is closely associated with the Celtic-Irish goddess Brigid. Imbolc is sacred to Brigid because she is a goddess of fire, of poetry, and of healing, all things that go along with the creative powers of the onset of spring. She is a powerful representation of the Maiden Goddess, and she has been almost perfectly preserved for us today by none other than the Roman Catholic Church. Rather than call her demon and risk the displeasure of all Ireland, they canonized Brigid and made her the patron saint of poetry and healing. This appeased the Irish, who at the time probably saw the Catholic saints as being very similar to gods.

*Information derived from here and here and well, here too :) 

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