2 February: Candlemas is celebrated along with various weather forecast customs throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
“The Badger peeps out of his hole on Candlemas Day and when he finds snow walks aboard; but if he sees the sun shining he draws back into his hole.” (German country lore)
|A pert badger, "Frechdachs", in honour of the said Candlemas weather forecast, originally a cover illustration for a children’s story by Hans Fallada by an unknown artist.|
It was the day when the hired farm hands traditionally got a pair of shoes, either for working on the estate for another year or to go along with the marching orders that were handed out on Candlemas. And since the hands usually were not allowed to marry, relationships formed over the year got left behind on the old estate. “New shoes, new love” was a popular saying, from the early modern age until well into the 19th century. And while Candlemas was one of the traditional days when rent was due for payment in Scotland, continental farmers and farm hands sold the poultry they had raised over the winter and hoped for better weather like everyone else from the Cliffs of Moher to Bohemia, watching serpents, bears and badgers and their behaviour, if there was snow on the ground and if they saw their own shadow. It would predict the weather for the next six weeks. In any case, farmers were supposed to have half the winter fodder still in store by Candlemas.
|James Tissot (1836 - 1902): "The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple"|
The “Presentation of Jesus at the Temple” or Candlemas is regarded as one of the oldest feasts of the Church, both Eastern and Western, and the blessing of candles to ward off all kinds of evil reminds of the various ancient European fire and spring festivals, but in fact it is only handed down as a special festival, Imbolc or Imbolg, in Ireland, where the mild Atlantic climate allowed for an earlier beginning of spring than on the still icy northwestern continent. Various other regions around the Mediterranean might have had similar customs, since Pope Innocent XII felt compelled to preach in the early 17th century: “Why do we in this feast carry candles? Because the Gentiles dedicated the month of February to the infernal gods, and as at the beginning of it Pluto stole Proserpine, and her mother Ceres sought her in the night with lighted candles, so they, at the beginning of the month, walked about the city with lighted candles. Because the holy fathers could not extirpate the custom, they ordained that Christians should carry about candles in honor of the Blessed Virgin; and thus what was done before in the honor of Ceres is now done in honor of the Blessed Virgin.” The old Lupercalia, celebrated throughout Antiquity, were obviously still looming behind and there is the story that Candlemas was one of their substitutes. The Northerners, however, shivered from the cold on February 2nd, anxiously watched their badgers or later the groundhogs and hoped for an early spring, while some carnival and Candlemas customs began to overlap in the early modern age.
And more about Candlemas and Candlemas customs on: