Imbolc, Candlemas, "Le Chandeleur"(Crepe Day) and Groundhog Day --- All Happening February Second
MidwinterClick thumbnail to view full-size
February Second - An Important Day For Lots of People For a Long Time
What's the Big Deal With February Second?
See below for more links about February second.
It has apparently been an important day for many people. It has been important for a long time, especially in Europe. Apparently this has to do with the weather in the middle of winter.
Yes, the days are getting longer, and that's good for people who had to warm themselves at the homemade fire and make all their own clothes and build their own houses. They also had to set aside food at the Great Harvest --- which was probably a date close to our Halloween --- (I think the Celts might have called it Samhain) ---because the days were getting shorter and colder.
So, by this (February 2) time of year, they were getting worried about whether or not they had enough to last through the rest of the cold weather, and how much longer the cold weather would last.
Right now --- February first, Tuesday --- I'm sitting here in a coffee shop watching the big blizzard of 2011. It's easy to feel a strong connection with those tribal folks in Europe --- or anywhere.
This weather is scary, even now, with all our techno-wizardry. I'm looking at a desert of snow, with whipping, blowing and drifting. We already have snowbanks piled up to about seven feet high on curbs and sidewalks. It's difficult to see when you're trying to turn the corner in your car.
Imagine what the world looked like to them. Sometimes I feel so grateful to those folks, just for surviving.
Remnant of a Bygone Era?
Historical Origins of Punxsutawney Phil
Below there are two links to websites about the pre-Christian festival, Imbolc. One website is Wiccan. The other is Celtic. I think they're about the same, though. The Wicca website points out that the day is also to honor the Celtic goddess Bridget, because on this day, the snake crawls out of the womb of Mother Earth, to test the weather. They say this is the origin of Groundhog Day.
That makes perfect sense. Apparently Groundhog Day has some sold grounding in history. (It's also lots of fun! Check out the links to Punxsutawney Phil.)
Scraping and Shoveling
Holy Mother Church Sanctifies the Day With Her Own Festivals
I notice that many authors seem to suggest, imply --- or rudely state --- that the Catholic Church forced the people to follow a new, Catholic holy day instead of the ancient, agricultural, natural festival.
I'm not a historian, anthropologist, or other professional --- or, whoever studies these things for a living --- but I have a suspicion that it was more of an addition, not a deduction.
The Gospel uplifts the festival. It doesn't diminish it.
But, more to the point, we don't necessarily have any business forcing our interpretations on folks who lived a long, long time ago. They're not here to speak for themselves, so all we really have to go by is the historical record. We just have to settle for that. Perhaps we have to have a little humility, and admit we don't really know many things.
In the Catholic Church, February 2d is Candlemas, and the Feast of the Presentation, and the Purification. The Presentation is the day that Anna and Simeon met and held Our Lord as a little baby at the Temple. Simeon said that he had seen the "light of nations and the glory of Israel". (Luke 2:32) (Just follow the "missionstclare" link below, to read more.)
Some Great Wicca Hubs on Hubpages
If you want to know more about the Wicca, Druid, Celtic, or other natural, agricultural, or earth-based, cyclical festivals or "religions" --- (they might not like that label) --- then just do some searches within Hubpages itself. There are some really beautiful ones here. One Hubber has even written a Hub for each of the quarter days, and each of the cross-quarter days.
The quarter days are what we now call winter and summer solstice; autumnal and spring equinox.
Two solstices and two equinoxes.
But, then those ancient folks also had four cross-quarter days. Samhain is between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, for example. Imbolc of course, would have been between the winter solstice and the spring (vernal?) equinox. I don't remember the names of the others. Maybe Beltane?
Therefore, these ancients had a festival about every six weeks or so, thoughout the year. Whoa, did they know how to party, or what?
I really don't know. Perhaps some of these festivals were not so much fun after all. Apparently the Romans reported that some of the tribes practiced human sacrifice. From what I've read --- which isn't much, just a few quick pages --- it seems that other historians actually dispute this report from the Romans.
These counter-arguments are based on the notion that perhaps the Romans wanted to ridicule the tribes in the outlying areas, in order to legitimize the Roman Empire's colonialism. I think there's agreement that, by a certain time, the Romans heartily disapproved of the practice of human sacrifice. The Romans were beginning to develop more of an awareness of the individual, as opposed to the collective.
In my humble opinion, anyway.
But, then, the next question: What made them develop such an awareness of the individual? Well --- again in my humble opinion --- it might have been the Hebrews. We know from the New Testament that the Romans colonized what we now call the Middle East.
So, they were in close contact with many Hebrew folks.
Is it plausible to speculate that the Hebrews --- with their notion of the One G-d --- would have had a slightly different way of thinking about things? And, eventually, that slightly different way may have sort of "rubbed off " on the Romans, because of contact between the two cultures.
I Try To Ensure My Hubs Are Always Family-Friendly
Please notify me if you see anything that is not G-rated on any of the websites I've linked to.
I don't like that. I want my Hubs to be safe and fun for all.
Links about Imbolc and Pre-Christian Festivities of February 2d
- BBC - Religions - Paganism: Imbolc
Imbolc, one of the cornerstones of the ancient Celtic calendar, marks the start of the farming season. Celebrations centre around fire.
- Wiccan, Pagan and Witchcraft Holidays., Imbolc Lore
History, information, lore and activities for the Pagan Holiday of Imbolc. ~~~~~~ I really like this Website. It has a lot of good information.
Links about Candlemas and the Presentation
- French Candlemas - La Chandeleur - Crepe Day
The Catholic holiday of Candlemas, on 2 February, is a feast to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus. In France, this holiday is called la Chandeleur, Fte de la Lumire, or jour des crpes.
This page looks kind of plain, but that's only because its true light is not so obvious at first. It's really quite a treasure: Songs, prayers, links to sheet music, with tabs for pennywhistle . . .
This article is kind of long and boring. It's from 1860. It does have some basic information, though, which is why I've included it.
And Now --- The Really Fun Part: Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day
- Home - Groundhog Day
Looking for answers to your Groundhog Day questions? You've come to the right spot!
- Greetings from Punxsutawney!
If you're looking at the website close to Groundhog Day, it's stripped down to its low-bandwidth version, which is pretty minimal. That's because so many are logging in. But, after Phil makes the prediction, they say it will look better.
The Great Blizzard of 2011
Right now, I'm sitting in a coffee shop writing this hub.
The manager just announced they will be closing ninety minutes earlier than usual, so that means really soon. I'd like to finish up my Hub before the actual day --- which is tomorrow, Wednesday, February 2 --- but it looks like the weather is getting the upper hand. . .
. . . as it so often does.
Ironically enough, right? Considering the topic of this hub.
God bless. Stay warm. Hug your kids, grandkids, loved ones. Don't go out.
Hoping to have a safe trip to my daughter's house tonight. As you may know, if you've read some of my other hubs, my son and I became homeless on the day before Thanksgiving.
Say a prayer for us, and for all.