Plant Snowdrops (later)
They are bulbs and must therefore be planted in the fall. However, you can “force” them if you don’t live where there is snow.
Planting to have for Candlemas if you don’t live in an area that gets cold is easy. Snowdrops look best in a wide pot that is at least 4 to 6 inches deep. Make sure that the roots have at least 2 inches to grow down. Use a few rocks on the bottom for drainage and fill the rest with good potting soil. They will look best if they are crowded together so plant them about ½ inch apart, pointy side up.
Then put in refrigerator for 15 weeks, make sure to water every so often. Take them out and gradually wake them up, indirect sunlight and 60 degree temperature. Soon the shoots will be 3 to 5 inches tall. Put them in direct sunlight at room temperature (about 70 or so) and they will bloom within about 2 weeks of coming out of the refrigerator.
If planting in snowy areas plant outside in partial shade and water every so often during the fall and winter. Soon as it starts to warm the snowdrops will grow, sometimes even through the snow.
After blooming, the leaves need to grow and photosynthesize. When they yellow and wither remove those leaves and leave the green leaves. You can fertilize in the fall and winter.
What better way to celebrate Candlemas than with candles?
You will need:
A clean wax coated cardboard box (like a milk carton)
A chime candle (those small ½ inch by 4 inch candles)
Candlewax (beads are best or you can chop into tiny pieces)
Ice pieces (not crushed)
Take the wax coated cardboard box and place the chime candle in the center. Fill the rest of the carton with ice, the smaller pieces the better. Melt your wax in a double boiler or microwave. Be careful that it doesn’t catch on fire by heating it too fast! If using a microwave keep your eye and stop and stir every 10 seconds or so. When it turns liquid take it out – it will be extremely hot, so again be careful. Slowly pour the wax into the mold. When pouring, slowly move the pouring pot to different places so you are not pouring in the same spot constantly. Wait until it is totally cool before ripping away the box. And done.
Prayer for the Blessing of Candles
You can bless your candles with any prayer you choose or take them to church. If they don’t bless candles at your church, here is a prayer you can use. In the old days, they would first purify the candle by passing it through incense three time and then the pray over the candles. This is a variation on the prayer from the Vatican Exorcist Father Gabriel Amorth.
“May this candle fix in our minds the image of God who loves us all, who is ever gentle and kind and picks us up when we slip and fall. May He guard us from evil traps and watch over us day and night, that our faith may never collapse as we walk always in the path of the light. May God bless all who use this candle in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Yes, it doesn’t sound much like a celebration, but when you’re done you’ll feel sooo much better. In Scotland in earlier times, they would take everything out of the house and clean it and make sure that light, from the sun or from Candlemas candles shined in every inch of the place so that no darkness (symbolic of remaining evil) would have place in their lives. Once everything was cleaned, light shined upon it and then put back, they would then make crosses. Sometimes Saint Brigid’s crosses (her feast day is also Feb 2), and sometimes out of rowan sticks (also representing St. Brigid for legend says a rowan tree grew outside her front door ensnaring any evil that thought to come after her) – either cross would be tied with red sting (representing the flame of the Holy Spirit, shining in the world) and put over the front door inside the house.
Making Saint Brigid’s Cross
This can be done with rushes, wheat, long grass, even pipe cleaners, but for clarity’s sake I will use the term rush, because in the story of Saint Brigid she made a cross of rushes from the floor and converted a King.
You will need:
16 rushes of equal length
Raffia or Red string
Take the first rush and hold it straight, then taking the second fold it in half around the middle of the first. It should look like a weird sideways T. Then turn it 90 degrees counterclockwise so that the first rush is horizontal to the floor and the second is pointing up. Now take the third rush fold it in half placing it around the second rush and pointing to your right. Make sure it is all the way down and touching the first rush. Rotate 90 degrees counterclockwise again so that the third rush is pointing up and the first rush is now going straight up and down. Then fold the forth in half and place it around the third, and half of the first and pointing to your right. Again, make sure that it is all the way down. Keep turning and adding more rushes until you have used all sixteen. Tie off the ends with a piece of raffia or red string.
Present Jesus at the Temple
I have personally never done this, but it is a very big deal in some Latin American countries. They take the baby Jesus from the manger that they used at Christmas and dress him up, usually baptismal clothes, but sometimes other things like soccer uniforms, tuxedos, etc. Then they put him in a basket and bring him to Church on Candlemas, some churches bless the figurines. Then they bring him back home and set him up in a little chair and celebrate with a feast.
Pancakes are the oldest festive food known to man, and it is the traditional food of Candlemas. The reason being that pancakes are round and golden and therefore representing the sun, one of the main nature symbols of Christ. They are made of eggs for remembrance of God’s creative power, flour as a symbol of the staff of life, oil long associated with blessings of God, and sugar for the sweetness of Life. You could have them for breakfast or they make an excellent dessert with blueberries (for peace and protection, and one of the fruits considered a favorite of St. Brigid) and whipped cream (sweet reminder that you should use the “milk of human kindness” as a follower of Christ).
I also like to use a small amount of acorn flour in the pancake batter. I like to use acorn flour for Holy Days because of the symbolism of the oak, also known as the Jesus Tree. For the oak is considered a symbol of strength, virtue, and re-birth. Its tiny acorns feed us as Christ feed the multitude on so little. Its leaves and bark have medicinal properties as Christ healed the sick. And it teaches us to realize that not only are we of the earth as it has its roots firmly in the earth yet we need to strive, just as its branches always reach towards heaven. And it also teaches us love as Jesus did, for the oak’s first branches form a cross. A recipe for Spicy Pancakes is in the post Candlemas Recipes.
Peace be with you,