Comfort in Candlemas

We made it. February 2 marks the halfway mark of winter and here we stand, relatively unscathed by the ghastly torrents that winters past have rained (and snowed) down upon us and winds that knocked us down along with everything else around us. On the seasonal front, I dare say we have fared well thus far, only having to tolerate the diminished light of these shortened days, the early onset of evening alleviated only by the steady sequence of astonishing sunsets, not to mention the sun’s exquisite apologies for its late appearance every morning by some equally astounding sunrises.

Groundhog Day, that February 2 quasi-holiday on which The Wanderer places an overemphasis every year started out centuries ago as Candlemas. The day has multiple significances in Christianity and the Pagan religions, and February 2 is significant in cultures all across the globe. My thoughts this year are of the old Western European tradition of clearing the fields for the first plantings of spring. And even so today, we move towards spring with the promise of the returning light, the rebirth of life and the world around us, and perhaps even within ourselves.

During Candlemas, people would light candles blessed at church to dispel the darkness. My very close Danish friend in Copenhagen hated this dark half of the year. Over in Scandinavia during winter the sun would never truly rise high in the sky, instead slanting its light burning long shadows all across the daylight. She would burn white candlesticks every day to penetrate the long nights that would extend late into the morning and return early in the afternoon. I embraced her tradition a couple years ago to see me through the dark half of the year she died. After all, it was never the cold of winter or even the snow that got to me; it was always the darkness, which I have come to accept and even now find comfort in with my white candles glowing and the promise of a slow, gradual return to the light half of the year.

That slow, gradual return to light is the predictable part of winter. But we are yearly at the mercy of the uncertainty of winter as inhabitants along the coastline of New England. The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts more rain than snow for us in the Tri-Town with mostly average temperatures for the most part through February.

And what say you, groundhog? To what are we beholden to endure these next six weeks? Will that traditional first spring flower cover of The Wandererbe in February like it has been in the past, or in March as it was last year? And, speaking of covers, congratulations to Hannah Ramalho of Mattapoisett, the winner of the annual Wanderer Groundhog Day cover contest. Thank you to all the participants who entered their artwork into the contest, and we hope to see you again in October for our next Halloween cover contest. Until then, go Patriots! And come on, spring!

By Jean Perry

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