Today’s Word: ‘Candlemas’ as in… the ancient festival of light marking the shortest and darkest days of the year.
According to the ancient Celtic calendar, each year is marked by the two solstices and the two equinoxes. At the Winter Solstice, between December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are the shortest of the year. At the Summer Solstice, between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are the longest of the year. At the Autumn Equinox in September, and the Spring Equinox in March, the days are exactly as long as the nights. The days that mark the halfway point between these four celestial events are traditionally named “cross-quarter days” as they fall between the quarters markers.
Candlemas is celebrated on February 2, the date that falls halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is a hope-filled celebration of the noticeable lengthening of the days. Winter is waning. Early Christian communities would gather to prepare wax for the dipping of candles and clergy would provide a blessing as the candles were distributed to the wider community.
Candlemas also marks 40 days after the birth of Jesus; a holy day (holiday) of purification with the candles representing the purifying nature of light, both spiritually and physically, the light of Christ among us. The author of 1 John writes this: This Message, this Word of Life that we’ve physically, tangibly touched and seen (so it must be true!), this Message that we’ve been given from the Creator we announce to you: Creator is full of light and in the Creator there is no darkness. None.
The days are lengthening. we are one minute, one hour, one day closer to the longest days of the year. In the meantime, let each of us reflect the light of Christ day and night. Let the light of Christ shine into every dark corner we can find. And when the darkness overtakes us and pushes us back and presses us to the edges of ourselves, may we discover even there, the light of Christ.