Happy Candlemas!

candlemasMost of us today probably associate February 2 with Groundhog Day. But the date is also associated with the ancient holiday of Candlemas, marking the purification of the Virgin Mary. For some, Candlemas also marks the true end of the Christmas holidays, when the Christmas decorations and greenery would be taken down and plants more appropriate to the season set in their place. So those of us who left our Christmas trees up late this year? Can rest easy in the knowledge that we’re in good company!

Ceremonies for Candlemas Eve

Down with the rosemary and bays,
           Down with the mistletoe ;
       Instead of holly, now up-raise
           The greener box (for show).

       The holly hitherto did sway ;
           Let box now domineer
       Until the dancing Easter day,
           Or Easter’s eve appear.

       Then youthful box which now hath grace
           Your houses to renew ;
       Grown old, surrender must his place
           Unto the crisped yew.

       When yew is out, then birch comes in,
           And many flowers beside ;
       Both of a fresh and fragrant kin
           To honour Whitsuntide.

       Green rushes, then, and sweetest bents,
           With cooler oaken boughs,
       Come in for comely ornaments
           To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift ; each thing his turn does hold ;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.

–Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

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