Candlemas is quiet midwinter day. Boisterous Beltane is about fertility and new life. Halloween by contrast is about death and the departed. Candlemas is about everything in between: family, hearth, home. It is Brigid's Day. Before she became a saint in the Catholic pantheon, Brigid was the goddess of domestic arts. In her time, my ancestors birthed the first of the new lambs around this time of the year and started preparing to break ground for the year's planting.
We spent a quiet day at home, taking care of our basic needs. And after the groundhog had seen his shadow and the setting sun made the shadows in our own yard grow long, we gathered in the kitchen to make dinner.
Like many of my compatriots, I made a loaf of soda bread, carefully cutting Brigid's cross into the top before baking. And, in honor of the birthing our ancestors oversaw, my counterpart produced lamb chops. Crusted with herbs and roasted in the oven, it was a delicious modern take on what my forebears may have eaten on this night. Although, unlike those ancient ancestors, my lamb was served with a cherry sauce and ribbons of carrot and red pepper.
And, at the end of the day, I left my offering of soda bread and milk on the hearth, thankful for a warm house and a full belly even in the dead of winter.