February 2, 2013

Candlemas and Polish Traditions

Growing up in Poland, the date February 2nd marked the end of Christmas season. Really.

The Christmas carols were sang in church from Christmas Day until February. And I loved singing carols. The Christmas tree was still standing in the corner, although the candies were already eaten. Yes we decorated the tree with sweets. We, I and my siblings, were fighting over them.  On February 2nd only the wrappers were hanging ...

In America we don`t keep the Christmas tree until February. On February 2nd we check the groundhog and its shadow, as if it really mattered. The winter will stay as long as necessary, but the animal is cute and watching the men dressed up in top hat if fun.
As of today the winter of 2013 will be cut short, according to "Punxsutawney Phil" . He did not see his shadow. I guess I can put my XC skis away...sigh

On February 2nd we celebrate Candlemas.
It used to be a tradition that the candles were blessed before Mass that day. They represent Jesus, the Light of the World. Growing up there was obligatory mass ( not anymore ) to attend. The candles were taken home, and used throughout the year.

In Poland on that day, there is another feast being celebrated.
The feast is called Święto Matki Bożej Gromnicznej (Święto, "Holiday" + Matka Boska, "Mother of God" + Gromnica, "Thunder"). The name Gromnica "Thunder"refers to the candles that are blessed on this day.  The candles are lit during (thunder) storms and placed in windows to protect from a destructive and deadly storms.
I remember during summer  visits at my grandparents countryside house, when a thunderstorm was approaching, my grandma would light that candle and put it out in the window.

In older times Gromnica  the folk people believed that it protected them from the packs of hungry wolves that were circling villages during early spring.

One of the most important custom in my opinion, is placing Gromnica in hands of a dying person.
There is a conviction among the family of a dying person, that it is easier to die with a light in his hands. The light of a candle is a reflection of Christ the Light, receiving the dying one. It is a proof of one`s faithful journey on the earth.

I do not celebrate how I used to. The candles are not blessed in church anymore, and I don`t light it when the thunders are rolling. Kiki says that we can thank Benjamin Franklin for that :)

And I am not a candle person. I do not take candlelight baths or make a candlelight dinner for two. Yes, on a special occasion the candles are lighten up on the dinner table, and sometimes to repel the smells in the kitchen:) But this year with girls we made our own candles. The real ones, from beeswax...



..because whether your are a "candle" person or not, on Candlemas there has to be candle light present.
You can admire the beauty of its light...

...or enjoy it as a treat:)

Happy Candlemas Day,



  1. Love those cupcakes! You're so clever!

  2. Thank you for this wonderful article.