February sayings and traditions

Here are a few wise old sayings from the February 1932 edition of La Prosperite a la Campagne:

Chandeleur noire – hiver a fait son devoir.

Chandeleur trouble – l’hiver redouble.

Black Candlemas – winter has finished its work.

Unsettled Candlemas – winter will redouble its efforts.

(I guess that by ‘black’ candlemas it means cloudy and not snowy. Candlemas is 2 Feb.)

Here’s a similar old English rhyme:

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.

If Candlemas Day be dry and fair,
The half o the winter’s to come and mair;
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul,
The half o the winter’s gane at Yule.

Si janvier fait le février, février fait le janvier.

If January is like February, February will be like January.

Quand le soleil a la Chandeleur fait lanterne – quarante jours après il hiverne.

When the sun shines brightly like a lantern at Candlemas, forty days later it will be wintry.

Si l’eau court dans les ruisseaux a Ste Agatha, le lait coule dans la chaudiere.

If water is running in the streams on St Agatha’s Day (5 Feb), milk will flow in the boiling pan.

Gelée de Ste Honorine – rend la vallée chagrine.

Frost on Ste Honorine’s Day (27 Feb) briefs grief and worry to  the valley.

Photo from pdphoto.org - public domain photos

Candlemas on 2 February traditionally marked the end of Christmas. It is the midway point between the winter solitice and the spring equinox. Candles were taken to Church to be blessed. They were incredibly important items in days gone by, not only because they were the main source of light but also because many people believed they had beneficial properties. In Ireland, to this day, candles are used to bless the throat to protect it against infections.

It’s traditional to have pancakes at Candlemas. Now that’s always good news in our household.

February 2nd is also groundhog day. In German tradition, it was the badger who predicted what the weather would do. If he stuck his nose out and found snow, he’d come out because he knew winter would soon be over. But if he saw sunshine, he’d go back down his burrow and go back to sleep because he knew more bad weather was coming. I hope our ragondins will go back down their burrows!

And it’s your last chance to take down the last Christmas decorations. If you missed the twelfth night deadline, this is the next one. Miss that and bad luck could be in store. You’ve been warned!

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