Celebrating Candlemas

Candlemas 2018

Today marks the midway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  You guys ... that means we're halfway through Winter!!! When doing some lesson planning last week, I discovered that there's a real name for this celebratory day - Candlemas! It's mostly celebrated in Europe, but let me tell you ... I'm a huge fan and am determined to make it an annual celebration in this New England household. Although the end of Winter is misleading here in Massachusetts and we tend to have snow into the Spring, this day helps me remember that Summer WILL come - no matter how cold and snowy it might be today.

But there's an even more special thing about today ... it's the 40th day of Christmas. I know ... I know ... it's technically Epiphany and not Christmas anymore, but there's something significant about this 40 day mark. 40 days after Jesus was born, Mary & Joseph took him to the temple, where they met Simeon. Simeon had been promised that he would not die before he met the Lord's Messiah. He had waited his entire life for this day ... and upon the presentation of Jesus he knew without a doubt that this baby was the Messiah the world had been promised. 

Now, Lord you let your servant go in peace: your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people; a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel. ~Luke 2: 29-32

There's something so significant to me that we celebrate this Feast of Simeon right smack dab in the middle of Winter. Right when we are all waiting for the light to return. Right when we think we can't press on any further in these dark, cold days of winter ... we are reminded that the Light has come. That more light is on its way. That God has fulfilled ... and continues to fulfill ... his promises to us.

I mean ... how can we NOT celebrate a day like today?! When I discovered all these wonderful things about this 2nd day of February, I decided we'd make today a special day. Here's what we're up to today:

Morning Light - this is what I call our Morning Time together. This is the start of our homeschool day together and usually includes a reading from the Bible, singing our monthly hymn, talking about the weather, the calendar, and the season we are in, poetry readings, and usually a picture book of some kind. Today we lit candles all around us, learned about how people celebrate Candlemas in Europe, read the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Luke 2, watched a video of the Song of Simeon (which, by the way, gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes), talked about what we're waiting for (Me - Warmth! A - Gramma to come visit! E - someone to give us new kittens), and then I had them cozy up under blankets by the fire while I told them the fairy tale of the Snowdrop.

Art - We then moved to the kitchen counter, armed ourselves with paper and oil pastels, to create a piece of art that represented how we heard the story. I love doing this with the girls - especially with stories that have very few pictures - because it really encourages them to think about what they've read and be creative about what they imagine. After we finished our pictures and talked about what we drew, I showed them illustrations from a Kindle version of the story.

Crepes - One of the traditional ways people celebrate Candlemas is by eating crepes or pancakes - the round shape symbolizes the long days of sunshine that are up ahead; so we'll be including crepes in our dinner plan for the evening. We'll have breakfast for dinner with savory crepes full of eggs and bacon and sweet crepes full of jelly or Nutella. We love any excuse for crepes - and it's been a while since we've made them, so the girls are quite excited for tonight's dinner. And of course we'll eat by candlelight - because today is the day we celebrate light after all!!

Singing - For a week now I've had the Song of Simeon from my Lutheran youth days in my head but I've been unable to find music for it anywhere. Today a good friend came to my rescue and send me a picture of what I had been singing - and I'm so excited to share it with my girls tonight after dinner. I dearly miss good Lutheran liturgy, so I love being able to incorporate it into our family life as much as possible.

Nature Journal - Later this afternoon we'll grab our nature journals and add an entry about Snowdrops. They aren't sprouting here yet - it's still a little early for that - but it's fun to anticipate their arrival. We're hopeful that there are some in our yard ... and if not, they'll be the first bulbs we plant in the Fall!

Decorating Candles - I had great intentions to make candles today, but I never got my act together to buy wicks, so instead, we may decorate some tapered candles from Trader Joes that I have stashed in a drawer. Honestly - whether or not we get to this project is yet to be determined ... it just depends on how well my girls can get along the rest of the day. At the moment, things aren't looking so promising ;-)

Planning Seeds - This is more my activity than one that I'll share with anyone else - but hey, every Mom needs some self-care, right?! It's the time of year when we start to plant seeds for our Spring and Summer garden. Although our garden will be very small this year, as our yard is mostly shade, I do want a few plants to tend and nurture throughout the harvest months. I pulled my box of seeds out and can't wait to buy some potting soil this weekend and get our little babies under the grow lights.

It's such a joyful day ... Spring is on it's way! We've made it halfway through Winter! The days are getting longer! The light is drawing near! Before we know it we'll be playing on the beach all day! And until then, we'll remember the story of the Snowdrop. And find strength to hope for the summer we know will arrive.

It was bitingly cold, and the days that followed didn't bring a sunbeam. It was weather to freeze such a delicate little flower to bits. But there was more strength in it than even it realized. That strength was in its happy faith that summer must come, and this had been imparted by its own deep desire and confirmed by the warm sunlight. And so with patient hope it stood there in its white dress, in the white snow, bowing its head when the snowflakes fell thick and heavy or while the icy winds swept over it.