February 2nd is the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Humans have recognized this point in the turn of the seasons throughout time. The celebrations for this time of year have many names depending on your beliefs: Candlemas, St. Brigid’s Day, Imbolc; there is a Chinese Spring Festival and a Japanese Lantern Festival.
Isn’t it amazing to consider that humans around the world throughout time have celebrated the shifts in nature?
In the United States, we celebrate Groundhog’s Day on Feb 2. Legend has it that on this morning if a groundhog can see its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it cannot see its shadow, spring is on the way.
Each month I share the signs to accompany one of our circle time songs for Storytime members. This month we are learning the signs to my dear friend Cynthia's poem.
The Groundhog, by Cynthia Aldinger (shared with permission)
Groundhog in your hole so deep
Raise your head and take a peep.
If your shadow makes you leap!
Curl back up and go to sleep.
Imbolc, a pre-Christian festival, blessed the spring planting for the coming year while celebrating the return of the light. Candlemas has Christian roots and was once a time when priests would bless the candles to be used in homes the rest of the year. Later in history the festival took on new meanings and became a time for putting away the greenery from Christmas and preparing your hearth and home for spring.
When Candlemas Day is bright with sun;
Then Winter’s power has just begun –
But when Candlemas Day is dark with rain
Then Winter’s power is on the wane!
Regardless of your beliefs, I find it meaningful to take a moment, pause, and recognize: the light is steadily returning, winter is on its way out, and spring will soon return.
I like to mark the significant shifts in the season with rhythms and rituals, this one included.
I’ve listed some ideas my family and school community have done over the years to recognize this halfway point between winter and spring. As I always suggest, please don’t try to take all of these on at once. Do something that resonates with you and repeat it year after year. Add other layers as you desire.
Make candles: pour, dip, or roll beeswax candles to use for the rest of the year. This is often the time of year when my family gathers all the end pieces of candles we have used, melts them, and pours new candles with the wax. Our Storytime families are learning how to make rolled beeswax candles this month during our Craft Visit with Ms. Rae.
Prep gardens for spring and start seeds: Look through seed catalogs together and make plans for your spring garden. Draw a garden plan. Work in your garden to prepare the beds for planting. If you don't have garden space, consider a container garden on the porch or an herb garden in a sunny window. We love Sow True Seed in Asheville, NC or organic, heirloom seeds.
Plant bulbs: I traditionally planted bulbs with my Little Round Schoolhouse children for Candlemas. Look for bulbs with summer blooms.
Spring Cleaning: remove all that has accumulated during the winter and make room for the growth of spring. My family has traditionally gone through our closets this time of year and removed clothing that no longer fits or serves us. It’s a good time to take note of what new clothes your child may need for the spring.
Eat crepes for a meal: crepes are light, sweet, and shaped like suns–the perfect way to celebrate the return of the light and the promise of spring.
Clean your hearth and fireplace: if you use a fireplace, this is a good time to clean out the ashes and tidy around the hearth.
Care for wooden toys: my family and school children often took this time of year to give all our wooden toys a fresh boat of beeswax. The lovely smell of the beeswax and the shiny toys lifted our spirits and provided another reminder of the warmth to come.
Remove greenery from winter celebrations: We have a ritual of burning our Christmas tree and other greenery during these first weeks of February.
Interested in learning more nature-based songs, stories, and craft projects?
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