The return of the light: Imbolc, “Lichtmess”, Candlemas

“Lichtmess”, or Candlemas as it is known in English, is the Christianised name for an age-old European festival celebrating the return of the light in the northern hemisphere, its roots going back to the Celtic festival of Imbolc celebrated on the evening of 1st February.

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As of February, the increasing hours of daylight start to become more noticeable and the day’s work again begins and ends in daylight.

In the country calendar “Lichtmess” or Candlemas also marked the end of the annual employment contract for farmhands and maidservants: traditionally presented with a farewell gift of a new pair of shoes from their farmer employer, come Candlemas on 2nd February, farmhands were free to seek new masters for the next year.

Neither farmhand nor in need of a new master, this year I have marked the return of the light by gathering up the remains of the winter’s candles, combining them with some of last year’s pressed flowers from the orchard meadow, and stocking up on homemade summer candles ready for long, light evenings…

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(The jars? My harvest of preserving jars with chips, cracks or missing lids…)

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12 thoughts on “The return of the light: Imbolc, “Lichtmess”, Candlemas

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  1. Beautiful! You’ve made me want to get out all our old, dusty candles that never get used, and burn them all tonight for Candlemas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not that I have experienced… Lichtmess as such barely gets a mention now – February is all about “Fasching” or carnival in Germany (mid-Feb) and the Fasching food is “Krapfen” i.e. doughnuts, the ball-shaped ones without a hollow in the middle, they are spherical with various fillings…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely and inspiring post. I wish Candlemas would return as a recognized celebration – I would take it over Valentine’s day – but no reason I can’t do my bit.

    Liked by 1 person

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