You might be surprised by the answer! I certainly was.
Since dipping my toe into the Waldorf and Montessori world I’m fascinated with festivals and seasonal celebrations. I stumbled upon this article about the upcoming festival of Candlemas and immediately am in love (i adore all things candle and light and not-winter); they have me at:
“Candlemas is a time of year when the lengthening of daylight hours becomes noticeable. The day is celebrated because it means that winter will soon be over, and spring will come. The time of darkness and fallow earth will soon end, and new light and life-sustaining growth will come.”
Candlemas is celebrated on February 2nd: the day halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It’s like the half-birthday for winter. On March 20th, he will be one and turn into spring!
I understand completely how people in northern climates and those who work outdoors love this day. That they delight in the longer daylight hours and celebrate with their whole beings the return of the sun! This sounds like my kind of celebration.
I’m all set to embrace the candles and light of this tradition, but then I find more!
I discover the connection with the liturgical life of the Church! The Church calendar focuses on events important in the life of Christ and the Theotokos: these are the feasts of the Church. We are familiar with the big ones like Christmas and Easter (Pascha for the Orthodox), but there are actually twelve great feasts, Pascha–the feast of all feasts, and then lots of other lesser known feast days.
There are many feast days that coincide with seasonal festivals. The Church has retained a connection with days that are important in the seasonal life of the world.
The feast at Candlemas? The Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The Presentation of Light in the World. I love this. I love the connection between Orthodoxy and our earthly life. Finding us on the earth and drawing us toward heaven.
Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace! From you shone the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God. Enlightening those who sat in darkness! (from the Troparia for the feast)
So, yes, we’re celebrating Candlemas this year. We’re celebrating the Light of the World and the light of the world. We are embracing the world we live in while lifting our eyes toward the heavens!
We’ll go to church. We’ll light all the candles. We’ll maybe clean house and add some reminders of spring and the Resurrection. We’re made for another world, but for now we’re here: waiting for the sun and the Son to return.