Since a few years on the 2nd of February together with our children we celebrate Candlemas, or Maria Lichtmis in Dutch, La Chandeleur in French. It is a celebration that we got to know through the Rudolf Steinerschool that our children attended in Haarlem. Candlemas falls on the 2nd of February, exactly forty days after Christmas Day on the Christian Calendar. We are halfway winter.
This festival has different names and meanings to people all around the world. In pre-Christian times, it was celebrated as a festival of light. The second of February marked the halfway point between the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year) and the spring equinox (when day and night are of equal length). After the dark period we can now notice the days lengthening. The light is returning and you can sense that spring isn’t far away. The sun makes the blue in the air stronger. February blue skies are different, bluer, because of the absence of pollen in the air.
In the tradition of Rudolf Steiner, Candlemas is the day to gather the light that we have kept inside of us to get through winter and give it back to the Earth. We warm the earth with our light and encourage that which has been sleeping underground to sprout and grow. It is the celebration of the promise of renewal, of Earth awakening and hidden potential.
In the Christian tradition Candlemas Day marks the presentation of Jesus in the Temple when Simeon hailed him as ‘A light to lighten the Gentiles’. Candlemas Day’ is also dedicated to the purification of Maria: on the 40th day after giving birth the postpartum period ends. That is why Candlemas is also seen as the celebration of women and fertility. Christians use to light candles for Jesus and Mary. According to some this is the reason why snowdrops, one of the first flowers to bloom in winter, are also known as Candlemas Bells or Mary’s Tapers.
Today we watch the thousands of snowdrops on our land and the small changes in nature showing that a new season is on its way. We light our candles and eat pancakes, symbols of the sun that is regaining strength. It’s time for new beginnings! Jeroen and Leonoor