Candlemas: February 2nd

Last night while Husband watched the Super Bowl, I was googling Groundhog Day to find out a little more about the origin of Punxsutawney Phil. (Wow, I just read that sentence back to myself. I so want to go back in time and high-five the 2001 Me who tried to feign interest when Tom Brady was in his first Super Bowl. “It’s ok, 2001 Hannah. In 2015, you won’t even have to pretend you’re interested while you cuddle with your hot husband in your adorable house. You win.”) Anyway, in the midst of reading about the February 2nd legend, I learned about the tradition of Candlemas. While it sounds like a made up word or possibly an Amy Sedaris crafting holiday, is a beautiful tradition that has been around for hundreds of years.

Candlemas: Feb. 2nd | Hannah & Husband

The tradition is that on February 2nd, priests bless the candles that light the homes in their community for the remainder of Winter. Candlemas occurs 40 days after Christmas, and, as with many ancient holidays, there are lots of theories about how February 2nd became a special day. Legends range from the end of a plague in Constantinople to a Christianization of the Gaelic festival of Imbolc. However, the most common thread seems to be the presentation of Jesus at the temple. 40 days also has to do with the Jewish tradition of female purification after childbirth so another name for Candlemas is “Feast of the Purification of the Virgin.”

The candles come into play as a reference to this scripture in Luke’s gospel. Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple and Simeon, after seeing the baby, calls Him “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” As the tradition goes, priests bless the candles and then people take them home to light the remainder of the dark winter nights and even to ward off thunderstorms.

Two thoughts for today…

  1. When I was little my mother always kept candles lit this time of year, and now that I have a home, I do the same thing. There is a homeyness that comes with the glow of a candle. A warmth it adds on the coldest, darkest nights that I can’t quite explain. Oil lamps, pillar candles, tea lights–they’re a cheap fix for some good juju, I promise!
  2. January is hard and grey and bleak. What sort of light are you bringing to other people these days? There is something to be said for being the hopeful, encouraging friend that makes everyone you meet feel like the most important person in the room. Go forth and be a light in the dreary!
In East Tennesseee? Fig & Company is my new go-to candle source. Check out that colorful display!

In East Tennesseee? Fig & Company is my new go-to candle source. Check out that colorful display!

Some Crafty Candle Links from Winters Past:

Candle Salad & the 1950s Dinner Party with the “Club” 

Repurpose Old Jars Into Vintage-Looking Candleholders

May the remainder of your Winter days be filled with light!


FDR’s D-Day Prayer

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer

delivered on June 6, 1944

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas -- whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.

I remember the first time I heard this prayer, delivered to America nearly seventy years ago by radio address the night after American and Allied forces landed in Normandy. It brought several things to mind, that I’d like to consider today:

First, Husband and I were talking recently about how little we have to invest in our own freedom. Neither of us serve in the military and while we do have friends and family that do, it’s interesting that we, as individuals don’t have to give anything up to pay for the freedoms that we enjoy everyday. I nerd out over old radio shows, and a common theme among each of them is reminding their audience of which food was being rationed or why they shouldn’t frequent black markets. Can you imagine how much Americans would revolt if this happened today? Why is that? What’s changed? And what could we do to support the military that we know?

Secondly, there’s this line:

“…because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

I’m challenging myself to do that today. To keep prayer at the front of my mind. I understand that sometimes you really have nothing to say, but there’s always someone to pray for and something for which to give thanks. And, if nothing else, pray a blessing for our friends in uniform. That prayer is always timely.