Winter Fire

park-oven_2On February 2 we will participate in the Christ Church Sunday School Children’s Carnival. This celebration is in honour of a number of mid-winter traditions described below. The oven will be hot from 2-4. All are welcomed and encouraged to attend the Children’s Carnival. As always, anyone in the community wishing to do some baking can stop by as well.

Children are invited to shape flat loaves in the kitchen of the Christ Church Parish Hall at 1 pm (corner of Ochterloney and Wentworth Streets). We will make candles while the loafs rise and starting at 2 pm bring the loafs to the Park Avenue Community Oven to bake. The loaves can be eaten, laid under your first furrow or left on your window sill as you see fit. After the bread is baked we will return to the Hall for carnival and king cake.

Please note, if weather looks stormy or cold we may not be able to fire the oven. If this is the case we will post on our website and on our Facebook page by 10am Feb.2.

Christ Church, Dartmouth

Christ Church, Dartmouth

Traditions

February 2 is Groundhog Day to many, but it’s also Candlemas on the Christian calendar. It’s the day when the Church celebrates Joseph and Mary’s presentation of the baby Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth, in keeping with the Jewish tradition of ritual purification and redemption of the firstborn.

Prior to Candlemas there was a Roman holiday, Lupercalia, and a Celtic holiday, Imbolc. February 1st is the feast day of St. Brigid, who began her life as a pagan fire and fertility goddess and ended up a Christian saint.

February 2 falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and in many traditions it is associated with hibernating animals beginning to stir and the beginning of the agricultural year. The promises of the return of the light and the renewal of life which were made at the winter solstice are now becoming manifest.

Medieval Anglo-Saxon farmers took a loaf of bread, kneaded it with milk and holy water and laid it under the first furrow.

To celebrate St. Brigid’s day, people put out a loaf of bread on the windowsill for the Saint.

Fires were built in Armenian church courtyards. People danced about the flames, jumped over them and carried home embers to kindle their own fires from the sacred flames.

Candles are blessed at Candlemas and then taken home where they serve as talismans and protections from all sorts of disasters.

One traditional ritual associated with this time of year is to clean out your hearth and then light a new fire. Sit around the fire and reflect on the seeds you wish to plant in the coming year.