There Is a Mid-Winter Festival Hidden in Plain Sight

posted by Mike on February 2nd, 2014

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Groundhog Day, Candlemas, St. Brigid’s Day, and the old pagan festival of Imbolc are all mid-winter holidays that basically happen on the same day every year. By that day, midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, you know for sure that the days are getting longer. It’s still winter, but you know you’re going to make it. So you do things like bless all the candles you’ll need for the coming year (if you’re a Christian), or study the behavior of giant hibernating ground squirrels to predict the onset of spring (if you’re a Pennsylvanian). You might welcome Brigid (the saint or goddess) into your home (if you’re Irish). It’s a time of purification and light.

The mid-winter festival is a great day to consider how your New Year’s Resolutions are going, and if necessary toss them out to prepare your life for spring. Candlemas is when I officially start planning for Lent. That means starting to think about what I might want to give up, and asking my non-Christian friends if they’re observing Lent this year (many of them do!). It’s also a good day to start fantasizing about your garden (if you haven’t) and to do a little something to get started on your taxes.

This year, Chinese New Year and the Superbowl are both taking place on mid-winter weekend, resulting in an embarrassment of feastday riches.

Candlemas–now my favorite neglected holiday.

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