Candlemas marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. As the long, bleak, cold winter dragged on, our ancestors yearned for warm sunlight to return. Your great-great-great grandmother might also have woven a straw ‘circle cross’ to honour St Brigid at this time. On February 2, countryfolk took candles to their local parish and had them blessed. All over Europe, churches twinkled with beautiful candlelit processions. Candlemas was a festival of lengthening days, candle-lighting, picking snowdrops, hearth fires and special foods (particularly dairy, as ewes began lactating in early spring). In the southern hemisphere, we acknowledge this annual ‘Festival of Light’ on August 2.