February 2nd is an auspicious seasonal milestone, being variously titled Imbolc/(St.) Brigid's Day/Candlemas/GroundHog Day, and doubtless many more I failed to discover. It represents the midpoint between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox (at least in the northern hemisphere); in other words, we are halfway to spring. It's a milestone of hope: cold still grips the land, but the days are noticeably longer and we begin to imagine and prepare for the onset of warmer weather. (Actually, as lovely as that sentiment sounds, we here in Whistler would be just fine with a little extra snow and extended spring skiing. Once the mountain closes in April though, we're pretty keen to get on with the melt.)
As for forecasting the exact onset of the thaw: the bears are still hibernating, and since our hearth fire is gas, we won't be inspecting the ashes for signs and portents, though the layer of dust on the mantel might well prove instructive. It was a cloudy day here, so any critters who may have poked out their heads would have seen no shadow, which presumably foretells an early spring.
As for a family celebration - I talked with the kids a bit about the significance of the date, and though my daughter was impressed with Brigid in a girl power sort of way, the children are most keen to focus on the proximity of spring. Typically, they've requested cake to mark the day, my daughter suggesting we ice it in two halves - one white, to represent winter, and one green with flowers, to represent spring. Since it's a school night and half the family is presently huddled in bed shivering and sniffling, I think we'll postpone that to the weekend, but I promise to show you pictures when it happens!
Bloggers have traditionally participated in a silent poetry reading on this date, in honour of Brigid's association with poetry, and though I have failed most years (the last being 2007), I do think it is a lovely practice (though by the looks of it, that ship has sailed and everyone else appears to have moved on. Never mind.)
She who reconciles the ill-matched threads
of her life, and weaves them gratefully
into a single cloth—
it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration
where the one guest is you.
In the softness of the evening
it’s you she receives.
You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.
Rainer Maria Rilke
What are your thoughts at this time of year - do you mark it in any special way, with cultural or personal traditions?