Candlemas Marks Halfway through Winter

Candlemas: A Midwinter Homesteader’s Holiday

By Ilene White Freedman

In early February (February 2, to be exact), there is an ancient holiday called Candlemas. It is celebrated between the winter solstice (December 21) and the spring equinox (March 20). On Candlemas, people would gather wax and all the half-used candles around the house and make more candles from old wax or dip fresh beeswax candles to get them through the second half of winter. February means you’re half way to spring (guess this depends where you live!). It’s a half-way-through-winter and let’s make sure we’ll stay cozy and well-fed kind of celebration.

At the end of February, this central Illinoisan is looking forward to spring.  This winter has been long and snowy. Our freezers are still fairly full of wonderful pork and lamb, along with sweet corn and other garden produce.  Ms. Freedman reminds me to start using more from our freezer.  After all, I’ve planted potatoes in March in past years.

So I take Candlemas as an opportunity to check my freezers, and I flip the question over: Am I using the frozen stock of harvest goods from last year’s season? Now is the time to make dishes with frozen shredded zucchini, blocks of pesto, bags of tomato sauce. In February and March, I appreciate these treasures from my own summer garden. I sure don’t want to find those in June, when I am blessed with a fresh harvest and less eager to use things from the freezer. February is the perfect time to inspire myself to dig a little deeper into the freezer and see what’s hiding there. Soup ready for the eating. Frozen strawberries from a sweet April harvest, ready for ice cream and smoothies. Pumpkin puree. Sun-dried tomatoes, dried and frozen, delicious in pasta or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Lots more snow predicted for this weekend.  We’ll be thawing one of our chickens, making some bread and hunkering down with a warm home and good food.  Strawberries and asparagus will be here soon enough.

Read more of this interesting article at Mother Earth News


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