February, finally! Whatever else there is about the beginning of the year, I don’t like the month of January, never have, never will. I generally prefer February, myself, seeing as it the start of Imbolc, the Celtic spring. There are quite a number of holidays in this month, not the least of which includes such major religious holidays like Shrove Tuesday/ Mardi gras [the 12th], and Ash Wednesday [the 13th].
Then again, what can you say about a month one in which a major holiday features atmospheric prestidigitation by an oversized rodent?
Most other customs regarding this day come from the ancient Candlemas, or the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Among the many traditions of this day are the taking down of the Christmas decorations, written about by Robert Herrick [1591-1674],
“Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall.
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see. ”
The relation to weather, groundhogs or not – in Alaska it is sometimes called ‘Marmot Day’ since there’s no groundhogs there – has long been a part of the tradition of Candlemas. An old English sailor’s saying has it that
“If Candlemas Day is clear and bright,
winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
winter is gone and will not come again.”
There is also, of course, that other holiday, named for a dead Roman, which has become so commercialized it might seem like a Hallmark holiday, but dates back to at least the 14th century. No less a personage than Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about it in his Parlment of Foules in 1382, where he wrote:
“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
When euery bryd comyth there to chese his make//
“For this was on St. Valetine’s day
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
You can download a modernized version of the Parlment here as a pdf.
Certainly, GLASC is celebrating this feast as well, with our annual Valentine’s Party, held on the 16th [not the 9th as we had previously published]. We also have a number of other events this month, including our new Cocktail Hours. We have been working on keeping our website www.glasc.com up-to-date with all the latest GLASC info. Check back here often for news, blogs and other important GLASC information.