Candlemas-msg - 7/25/00
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu (Dorothy J Heydt)
Subject: Re: Candelmas
Date: 25 Jan 1995 04:23:25 GMT
Organization: University of California, Berkeley
In article <3g41gg$i4q at geraldo.cc.utexas.edu>,
Shanti Day <Shanti at mail.utexas.edu> wrote:
>i have recently been invited to an SCA Candlemas celebration,
>and i was just wondering what exactly Candlemas was (besides an excuse
>to dress pretty and have fun)
Okay. The several things Candlemas is, I will try to enumerate
in no particular order.
It's the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin--or it was in
period. (The modern Church calls it the Presentation of the Lord.)
Somewhere in the Mosaic law (I'm not going to try to look it up
on the fly) there's a rule that for forty days after she gives birth
to a son, a woman is "unclean" and can't attend religious
Why is she "unclean"? Because she is bleeding. Just as if she
were menstruating, she is taboo until she finishes --well,
actually, the fluid she's producing, called "lochia," is mostly
water with enough blood in it to make it look like blood. Her
uterine lining is shrinking and contracting and healing after
having the placenta detach from it shortly after the birth.
Takes about six weeks to dry up. In other words, forty days.
(Mind you, this is for a son. If she has given birth to a
daughter, she has to wait sixty days, just for good measure. The
ancient Hebrews were not what you'd call egalitarian....)
Anyway, at the end of the forty days, the mother is brought to
the Temple (if within range, otherwise the local synagogue) and
ritually purified. And now she can go to religious services
again, and generally go out in public.
Candlemas, February 2, is forty days after Christmas.
So we celebrate the ritual Purification of the Virgin Mary, the
specified forty days after she gave birth to Jesus. (or, we used
The Feast of the Purification is also called Candlemas because
that's the day on which the year's supply of candles (for church,
not household use) are blessed.
Finally, Candlemas is a cross-quarter day, halfway between the
winter solstice and the spring equinox. Many northern European
pagans celebrated in various ways on the quarter days and
cross-quarter days; making a big thing out of Candlemas gave new
converts something else to do when they might otherwise have been
tempted to backslide. This is a very old tradition. We
celebrate Christmas on December 25 because the early Roman Church
wanted its flock to have something else to do during the
Quarter-days and cross-quarter-days were the days on which you
paid rent, or interest on a loan, or took on or gave up rental
property. (Michaelmas, at the fall equinox, was the day on which
a tenant farmer took possession of his land.)
Incidentally, the Christian Church performed similar rituals; I
have somewhere a book of rites (in Latin) including two purification
rituals--one for if the child survived, and one for if it died.
The service is called "churching," because until it's performed
the mother doesn't go to church. You can read that as "doesn't
have to" or "is forbidden to" as you choose. Keep in mind that
under this system, if she doesn't want to get up, she doesn't
have to, not even on Sunday.
So what do you do on Candlemas, if you haven't had a baby lately?
Dress pretty and have fun. Burn lots of candles. Sing songs
about spring, even if it seems a bit premature. (That's if you
don't live around here. It's January 24 as I write this and the
acacias and daphnes and tulip trees are bursting into bloom.)
Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin Dorothy J. Heydt
Mists/Mists/West UC Berkeley
Argent, a cross forme'e sable djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu
PRO DEO ET REGE
From: sirmll at aol.com (Sir MLL)
Subject: Re: Candelmas
Date: 27 Jan 1995 21:17:03 -0500
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
What the purification was that the Virgin (and other Jewish women as well)
was going through was a visit to the local mikveh or ritual bath. It
wasn't that she was *unclean*. The jewish word is 'niddah', which is
really not translatable. Perhaps taboo would be a little closer. Also,
since this was also her first-born male child, the ceremony that was
happening is pidyon ha-ben, or Redemption of the Firstborn, which is why
they were going to the Temple. Only the children of Levites were exempt
from this, as they were already 'redeemed'.
Women who were niddah slept seperately from thier husbands, and it wasn't
until after the visit to the mikveh did normal relationships resume.
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 09:29:22 -0500
From: Christine A Seelye-King <mermayde at juno.com>
Subject: SC - Happy Groundhog Day!
Happy Imbolc, St. Brigit's Day (ok, they were yesterday) Candlemas, and
Imbolc - Celtic Festival, also called Oimealg. Universal Celtic
Fertility Day. This holiday celebrates the first day of spring, when
Brigantia (Brigit), the goddess of all creative activity, rekindles the
fire of the earth, preparing the earth to bring forth new life in the
following months. Traditionally, tools of all kinds (agricultural,
household, smithing, etc.) are blessed by the Goddess at this time, as
well as household and smithy fires. Talismans of rushes "Brigit's
Crosses" are made for household protection, and Celts would observe the
behavior of "Brigit's Snake" as it emerged from its hibernation, as this
would predict how much winter weather was left in the year. (Ground Hog
Day origins) This holiday has largely been turned into St. Brigit's Feast
Day (See Below).
St. Bridgid's Feast Day (525) Patron Saint of Ireland, New Zealand,
Milkmaids, Cattle and Dairy Work, Fugitives, Nuns, Newborns, and Poultry
Raisers. Called " Mary of the Gael", she is buried with St. Patrick.
Numerous miracles are attributed to her, as well as the founding of many
churches, convents, and monasteries. (Coincidentally, the Goddess Brigit
was in Ireland when the Christians got there.)
Candlemas - 40 days after giving birth to Jesus, Mary took him to the
Temple in Jerusalem to present him to God. Celebrated with blessing
candles and a candlelit procession. Candles are blessed and placed on
Ground Hog Day -- North America - Based on a Scottish couplet "If
Candlemas dawns bright and clear, there will be two winters that year".
Also "If Candlemas Day be dry and fair, The half o' winter's come and
mair, If Candlemas Day be wet and foul, The half o' winter was gone at
Youl". Scottish, Irish, and Dutch immigrants to Pennsylvania believed
that if the weather was clear enough for a small mammal to see his
shadow, there would be two winters. Weather prediction based on the
ground hog's ability to see his shadow or not-if he does, there will be
six more weeks of winter, if not, spring will soon arrive.