seed party: the feast of roman candlemas

I’ve always grumbled about my birthday being in February. It always struck me as a gloomy, wet time to be celebrating. How much better to have a summer birthday when everyone could celebrate out in the garden or park. But last year away on retreat, I realised that the beginning of February is also the beginning of the end of my winter hibernation.

I’ve become much more aware of the seasonal cycle of my year. Staying in, reading, composting the mind during the dark-rich winter months, sat by the fire, fattening up the grey cells ready for the germination of spring. So, fittingly, my birthday also marks the birth of the year.

Obviously, the calendar beginning of Spring is at least a month away – but I was pleased to find out from Gary that the pagan calendar has a festival, Imbolc, on 2nd February, which marks the start of the end of winter. The point at which the seeds start to rattle in the frozen soil and begin their climb upwards to the sun.

So I threw the mother of all Candlemas parties with loads of fireworks and a bonfire lighting up the dark. (Including the mother of all Catherine Wheels which was a like seeing a blinding black sun burn up in my back garden for 3 minutes.) I also got every one to bring seeds and plant them for me. Symbolic – but also a nice way to get the flower beds nice and full.

Everything washed down with champagne and music. It was fierce. And clearing up the following morning in the shockingly hot sunshine, I felt that we had seeded the Spring, and I noticed how much I love clearing up mess. Slowly, listening to Nina Simone, drinking tea.

Happy Spring… it’s coming.


  1. rr

    February 11, 2008 at 2:15 am

    That blue glass is floating serenely above the brickwork. Quite definitely levitating. Springing, probably 🙂

  2. Barron

    February 12, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Hmmmm…My invitation must have been lost in the mail…

  3. St

    February 12, 2008 at 4:19 am

    I never liked my birthday in February because it was right
    after Valentines day. So my birthday cakes were heart
    shaped pink or red color frosting and as a kid I did not
    really like that part of my birthday. That probably
    explains why I don’t consider Valentines an important date
    to celebrate and not considered a romantic person.
    To me a birhtday is to keep track of your age for gov’t.
    For me I don’t feel my age and don’t look my age and that
    is the most important thing to remember. Go out and enjoy
    life and don’t take the number to serious because it is how
    you feel that matters not your age.

  4. Kirsty

    February 12, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Happy Birthday fellow Februarians!! Don’t let Vatentine tat
    infect your day of personal celebration.

    Its my birthday tomorrow and I’m looking forward to a day
    of PJs, reading in bed and playing cards with my girls!

    Looks like you had a good one Alistair, judging by the

  5. Valerie W.

    February 13, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Happy Birth of a New Year for you.
    Winter time is when I would rather been at home in my
    flannels reading. But unfortunately I need to come to work.
    They don’t pay me if I don’t. But I look at work at this
    time of the year as socialization time. Of course some work
    does get done.
    I do look forward to the blooming of spring,and the move
    out from hypernation mode.

  6. Brian

    February 13, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Happy Birthday Alistair – looks and sounds like it was a great night – those photos say it all

    Really nice idea to have friends plant seeds – hopefully you’ll share their germination with us 🙂

  7. Rick

    February 14, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Happy Birthday Alistair! What a lovely way to celebrate
    your day AND the coming Spring.

  8. duane from indiana

    February 28, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Thank you for ‘cleaning up the mess,’ taking time, even it occuring to you to capture the moment so uniquely, a real sense of occasion, sharing your birthday experience. I too anxiously await the sproutings, daffodils and purple hyacynth, planting lettuce seed first because it germinates so quickly, beautifully grows. And, finally extending the living space outdoors once more. As you’re putting on the morning kettle, I’m calling it a night!

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