Candlemas

(2 February), the feast of the Purification (of the Virgin Mary), called Candlemas because the tapers and candles to be used in church during the coming year were consecrated at this time. SNOWDROPS are dedicated to this feast (the plant is sometimes known as Candlemas Bells). A more general name for it was Fair Maids of February, for it was once the custom for young women dressed in white to walk in procession to the Festival (Prior). A stage from this would mean that the plant was sacred to virgins in general. In Shropshire, in the Hereford Beacon area, where the plant may possibly be native, a bowl of snowdrops was brought into the house (evidently the only day on which such a thing could be done with safety). They were thought to purify the house (Coats), in keeping with the name of the festival.

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