On February 2nd, we celebrate Candlemas, also known as St. Brigit’s day or Imbolc-the midway marker between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.
Candlemas is a celebration of light and transformation as we mark the sun’s growing strength. As the days grow longer we start to look forward to Spring and with this growing momentum, engage our own dreams, ideas and ambitions to bring them to fruition.
Candlemas has always been a special celebration in our family.
We celebrate the day as a time to start bringing all the thoughts and ideas that have come forward during the quiet, contemplative time of winter, into a period of germination. Just as the plants are starting to wake up underground; as the sap is starting to flow again through the trees; the young animals are growing within their mothers, preparing to be born, so are our hopes and visions.
Becoming aware of Candlemas, many years ago, also led us to take a greater pause through the winter; to be sure and slow down and use that time for meditation and clear thinking, so that we are ready to grasp the strength of spring renewal and shoot forward towards our goals.
Each year we plant a Wish Garden, sometimes with close group of friends, some years as a community party, and some years, just as a family. We usually dip candles in our own beeswax from our hives and prepare a planter filled with earth, through the day.
This evening, before we start our evening meal, we write out our wish for the year. When the boys were younger, they would draw a picture to represent their wishes.
We each dig a little hole in the pot, fold up our wishes and plant them deep within the hole, then cover the wish with a spring bulb or some seeds, and some more earth.
Then we plant our candle on top and light it, representing the returning sun warming the earth so the seeds can came forth and flourish. The wish garden sits in the middle of the table, alight, and we leave the candles burning in the planter, until they burn down completely. Then the planter stays in the kitchen where we can watch and wait and as our little plants start to sprout, coming into full growth 4-6 weeks later- for Spring Equinox. A warm welcome to spring and it’s renewal.
This has been a wonderful tradition to share with others….in some years we have made one large wish garden created by our community. One year we made a wish garden outdoors in a special spot on our new porperty- a way to connect to the earth with a sense of beginnings and renewals in that new place.
One of my favourite occasions was one Candlemas that we invited everyone we knew from our different social circles to come and join us. The house was full of children and conversation and laughter. We dipped candles, had a potluck meal, and each family created their own wish garden to bring home with them.
Just before the end of the evening, all the gardens, alight, were together in one room- a shared community wish, full of light and warmth. It was a sacred moment.
Here’s to family celebrations, beginnings, and giving our dreams room to flourish!
Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.
In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at www.kattikloo.com and on Facebook.