In preparation for the celebration, I started by making beeswax taper candles for us to burn in our birthday ring on the dining table. Our ring holds 9 candles and I made 12. One to try out as a sample and two to use for W's second birthday celebration next fall.
I had a blast making these and learned lots as this was my first attempt at candle-making as an adult. To be fair, it's not an entirely new concept to me since I used to help out in my aunt and uncle's candle shop a little bit when I was a kid visiting them. I have always really loved candle-making and I adore the smell and feel of beeswax. It may be my new addiction.
In addition I also wicked and poured beeswax into a heart shaped ramekin and made some cute little beeswax hearts to hang on the nature table tree. My plan is that we will put the heart candle inside our ring of light on the table.
Other preparations for our celebration included making St. Bridget's crosses from wheat straw according to these directions. I made one large one to hang on the wall and several smaller ones to hang on the nature table tree. I didn't have ready access to wheat straw from a local field so I bought wheat from the craft store's florist department to use after I cut the heads off. My one suggestion is to soak the straws in water before trying to bend them. Otherwise, they tend to snap in half.
As for food, which I consider an important part of any celebration, we will have pancakes, which are traditional on February 2nd to honor the sun. Along with this we will eat sausage which is a tradition from my family on Groundhog's Day because sausage is made from "ground hog". I know, it's kind of silly, but we have eaten sausage and some sort of pancake every year for Groundhog's Day for as long as I can remember. The other plan is to make butter to eat on the pancakes using these directions from The Magic Onions. From the research I did, this was traditionally a time for calving in Northern Europe and, which is why milk-based foods are often served as a part of the celebration too. Now I just have to remember to get the heavy cream for our butter once we dig our way out of all this snow.
Typically on festival days, our family's primary celebration is around the dinner table after Daddy gets home. We will repeat the verses that were used for circle time that morning, so that he gets to here them too, and I will try to tell a story, possibly based on this.
It also seems that Candlemas, in the Waldorf tradition is used as the first festival of Spring. After all, one of the verses we will say on the day is:
If Candlemas be fair & bright,
winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas be cloud & rain
inter will be gone, and not come again.
(I found this verse here)
To honor the coming Spring, we will plant these two little pots of seeds (forget-me-nots and Alpine Strawberries) that day on the nature table (and later move them to a sunny window). I am also hopeful that some other little early spring flowers or critters may join us on the nature table that day along with our snowflakes, winter greenery lantern and King Winter who are currently inhabiting the nature table.
I have to admit, in some ways it feels strange, but also wonderfully hopeful to be looking towards Spring when we just recently had about a foot of snow fall here.
Candlemas is also when we will start having discussions about what we will give up for Lent as well as starting our spring cleaning (actually we'll probably start the following day). It is also known as a time of creativity, so I will probably plan on some extra handwork for myself that day.