Snowdrops, Light & Lambs
Updated: Feb 1
If we take some time to focus beyond the interior of our home and thoughts we notice that life in the natural world is changing. We may at times feel that we are 'stuck' because of necessary pandemic restrictions, but as the earth orbits around the sun in an ellipse here in England and other parts of the northern hemisphere we are receiving longer days of light. It's the RSPB Birdwatch weekend and i can definitely hear more bird song, so i write this blog on the eve of February 1st half way between the longest day and when the sun moves north across the celestial equator here in the Northern Hemisphere.
At this time in Christianity there is the festival of Candlemas representing the light of Jesus when it is thought his mother Mary, after the 40 day post birth purification presented him to the Temple. Later this was celebrated by the ritual lighting of candles in Churches. In some parts of Europe crepes are eaten at this time. Snowdrops are seen by some as the Candlemas bells representing the hope that Christ brings. Some think Christmas decorations should stay up until Candelmas.
St. Brigid's day
Brigid is thought to be a Gaelic Goddess representing the light half of the year empowering people to step out of the dark half of the year into Spring and the festival called Imbolc. Years ago I visited Ireland and a child gave me a St. Brigid's cross that they had made at school. These are often hung over doorways for protection. The theme of light is also celebrated by the lighting of fires.
In Ireland and Scotland there are apparently many celebratory activities that happen such as eating particular dishes such as colcannon, dumplings, barmbrack or bannocks. Dumplings seem a good thing to eat at this cold time. I happened to make colcannon-mashed potatoes, kale, onions and milk and recently saw Nigella Lawson on TV demonstrating her Great Grandmother's version.
St Brigid/Brigit/Brid/Brighde/Bridget is also the Patron Saint of Ireland. St Bridget of Kildare and apparently Kildare Cathedral is built on the site of the Pagan shrine of the Goddess of St. Bridgid. Goddess Brigantia is also thought to be connected to Brigid.
Lambs and Light
Whatever we may think that this time is it is midway between Winter Solstice & Spring Equinox
It seems that February 1st has to be of significance. In farming it's also considered to be the start of the lambing season and when there is a noticeable difference in the length of the days.
It's still cold and time to wrap up warm make hearty hot dishes to eat, and perhaps light a candle. I certainly appreciate the sun shining earlier over frosty landscapes and have found joy in the purity of snowdrops showing their delicate beauty and so created my first time lapse painting video with my added prose about this time of year. A time of hope.