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01/17/2003 Archived Entry: "Candlemas"
Candlemas Day falls on February 2nd and although this was once an important religious festival (The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary) it is more widely known today for its weather lore. Country people regard Candlemas as the halfway stage of winter when many of us can be lulled into thinking winter is over. Farmers and country folk would always be sure to have half their stocks of food and fuel, as well as animal feeds and bedding, left at this time of year, just in case the weather took a real turn for the worse in mid or late February. From the weather aspect, an old verse is very well known -
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
If Candlemas be full of rain,
Winter will not come again.
But if we look in our gardens, parks or woodland we might see an early sign of spring - the snowdrop. Sometimes called the snow-piercer, it is said to come into bloom around Candlemas Day, and it is also known as the Fair Maid of February, or the Purification Flower. Young girls would make garlands of snowdrops to wear around their necks on Candlemas Day, as a sign of purity! And looking ahead a few days - St Valentine's Day (February 14) is said to be the day that our wild birds seek new mates. So, in spite of Candlemas, spring really is in the air....