The very long, very dark days are slowly becoming fewer and the sun is showing itself less shyly.
February 2 is symbolic of this increase in light: "Candlemas" was once an important day in the farmers' and church calendars.
What Candlemas has to do with Christmas
On this day at the latest, the cribs and Christmas trees were taken down in Catholic churches and private houses.
On the day of the "Presentation of the Lord", popularly known as Candlemas, the extended Christmas season and the winter rest phase ended 40 days after Christmas.
The festival has almost disappeared from everyday life.
Even in the Catholic Church, since the liturgical reform of 1970, the Christmas season has ended on the Sunday after Epiphany on January 6th.
However, some families, but also cities and communities, stick to the old custom and only take down the Christmas tree and crib at Candlemas.
A special day for servants and maids
For centuries, Candlemas also played an important role in the farming year.
Farmhands and maids received their annual wages in money and kind on this day, they could re-enlist with their employer or change employers.
The time until Agatha (February 5) was a kind of contractually secured idleness, which was called the "Schlenklweil".
Weather rules full of anticipation for spring
At the same time, preparation for the new field work began at Candlemas.
The weather rules deal with the anticipation of spring: “If it storms and snows on Candlemas, spring is not far away.” The saying has also been handed down: “If the sun shines hot on Candlemas, March brings snow and ice.”
At the beginning of February, it gets much longer light again. A farmer's rule clearly describes how the days since the winter solstice have been getting longer again: "Christmas by a mosquito's step, New Year's by a houndstooth, Epiphany by a stags' leap and Candlemas by a whole hour .”
Astronomers calculate more precisely: at the beginning of February, the sun rises – depending on the region – around 28 minutes earlier and sets 48 minutes later than on January 1st.
Overall, the day in Germany gains an hour and 20 minutes of brightness in February, and in March it is almost two hours.
This shows that the day length continues to increase until June – by a total of eight and a half hours, but not evenly.
Especially in February and March there are big leaps forward.
What is celebrated at Candlemas
From a religious point of view, Candlemas is one of the oldest festivals in the Church: it has been celebrated in Jerusalem since the beginning of the 5th century on the 40th day after the birth of Jesus.
In Rome, the Church introduced the holiday around the year 650.
In Germany, "Mariae Candlemas" is not a public holiday.
Until 1969, the festival was also called “Mary’s Purification” in the Catholic Church.
The festival ties in with the account in the Gospel of Luke, according to which Jesus, like all Jewish firstborns, was brought to the temple by his parents 40 days after his birth and "presented" to the Lord through a sacrifice.
Also, on that day, Mary offered a cleansing sacrifice, as required by Jewish law.
In this context, the Bible also reports the encounter with the aged Simeon, who praised Jesus as "the light for the enlightenment of the Gentiles".
The feast of the Presentation of the Lord has been celebrated in Jerusalem since the beginning of the fifth century;
it was introduced in Rome around 650.
From a festival in honor of Christ, a Marian festival developed over time;
meanwhile, Christ is once again the center of attention.
In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, people ask Groundhog Phil about the weather forecast on February 2 - and have been since 1887. Peasant rule on Candlemas and the groundhog are all too often wrong with their weather oracle.