Today, February 2, according to my San Miguel de Allende, bilingual, bicultural calendar for 2018, is both Groundhog Day and La Candelaria.
We gringos – whether from the U. S. or Canada – know the legendary significance of groundhogs on this day: If this little weather forecasting rodent pops up from his burrow and spies his shadow, then winter will persist for six more weeks. If he doesn’t see a shadow, spring will arrive earlier.
But the meaning of La Candelaria for many of us non-Catholic, non-natives here may be less clear.
What I’ve just learned is that Candelaria is the Spanish word for Candlemass, one of the least well known ceremonies in the Christian world, when, on February 2 each year, candles are blessed, lit, and borne in a procession in celebration of Christ’s being the “light of the world.”
According to the website sharefaith.com, “The date of February 2nd places the Candelaria celebration forty days after Christmas and continues the religious cycle that leads up to Easter Sunday. Additionally, it is also the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, which is the basis for various ancient European celebrations that commemorate the annual beginnings of the agricultural season.”
I haven’t seen any candlelit religious processions today, but I have seen the agricultural connection.
The down-to-earth meaning of Candelaria here in San Miguel these days is the annual plant-and-flower fair in Parque Juarez, which fills the park’s corridors with color and life from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for two full weeks.
This year more than 150 producers, from near and far within Mexico, are participating – selling fruit trees, ornamental plants, potting compost, flower pots, fertilizers, and other materials for gardening.
I wandered along the corridors, taking in the colors and buying a few plants for my “penthouse” patio.
The other day it was winter-cold, and I felt sorry for the shivering vendors.
But today the sun was out, the sky was blue, the flowering plants were showing off their colorful splendor, and Spring seemed to be just around the corner.
Thank God, I say, for Spring!