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Museum News

2 February, Candlemas or Groundhog Day

By 2 February 2021No Comments
Candlemas image of candles inside Bayleaf

The 2nd of February is also known as Candlemas, which is 40 days after Christmas, and was the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

By the time of Bede’s writings in the 8th century, it had acquired its characteristic ritual of a candlelit procession, and was a day when candles were blessed for a congregation to take home.

This sense of cleansing in February had a long tradition, with the Roman word februra meaning purification. After the Reformation the tradition changes but it persists. It was seen as a time that heralds spring, although it is not yet here, as is the midpoint between the shortest day and the spring equinox. The link to Groundhog day, on 2 February, is also for these weather conditions for the course of the winter.

‘A farmer should, on Candlemas Day
Have half his corn and half his hay.’

‘If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings clouds and rain,
Winter won’t come again.’

Any decorations from Christmas that did not come down at Twelfth Night should now come down after Candlemas day.