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Candlemas-msg - 7/25/00


Candlemas celebrations.


NOTE: See also the files: Yule-msg, holidays-msg, 12th-nite-msg, religion-msg, candles-msg, candlesticks-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu (Dorothy J Heydt)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

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




From: sirmll at aol.com (Sir MLL)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

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.


Mistress Tera



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

Groundhog's Day!


FEB 1st

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.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org