February 2nd is the halfway point. Here in the northern hemisphere, it’s halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
The rhythm of the seasons is a very real and natural phenomenon. One of the things I appreciate the most about seasonal rhythms is that the changes are noticeable! Every year, within a week of Feb 2nd, I notice increasing light and increasing birdsong.
From the dawn of humankind, people have engaged in rituals and activities to mark this halfway point.
The European tradition became know as Candlemas, a time to make candles, bless candles and be thankful for no longer having to rise by candlelight!
Here are four different types of candles you can make: rolled, poured, dipped and decorated.
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The rolled candles are quite simple and if you’ve never made candles before, a good starting point. You can purchase beeswax sheets and candle wick online here or at your local craft store. The sheets can be cut in half for a pair of tall candles or into four pieces for shorter sets.
One tip is to put the sheets into the oven for just a minute to warm up before rolling; this keeps them from cracking and makes the rolling much easier. Just turn your oven to its lowest setting until it preheats; turn it off and set your sheets on wax or parchment paper. Put them into the oven for less than a minute, watching carefully with the door open so that you don’t melt the sheets!
To begin rolling, cut a wick about 1″ longer than the length of the beeswax sheet and line it up along the edge.
Press the wax around the wick to seal.
Begin rolling around the wick, pressing gently as you go, and continue until finished.
Another easy method is decorating existing pillar candles with beeswax decorating sheets. These decorating sheets can be cut into many different shapes and pressed onto the candle with warm hands. If you don’t have the special decorating beeswax, you can use the rolling sheets of beeswax. You can use these special shapes cutters or just form the shapes freehand and press them onto the candle until they adhere.
Both poured and dipped candles can be made with beeswax that you melt in a double boiler. You can buy blocks of beeswax or beeswax pellets. I create a double boiler by washing out a bean or tomato can and placing it into a pot of water (a pot I use just for crafts). You’ll need to cut the beeswax into chunks and melt it in the can. Once melted, you can pour the wax into little tea light cups with these candle wicks to make simple, beautiful, sweet smelling tea lights.
The fourth option is to tie wick to pencils or dowels and dip these into the melted wax. You will use the beeswax blocks again, or the beeswax pellets, as you did in the poured candles. The trick here is to wait a minute or so between each dip so that you don’t simply melt off the wax from the last dip! You can straighten the wick the first few dips also (after it has cooled a bit) by pulling gently on the bottom of the wick so that your candle will stand straight and tall. This type of candle takes a bit more set up and is a good exercise in patience!
Whatever method you choose, you can enjoy an evening of eating dinner, telling stories, or playing games by candlelight. Any evening around this time of year.
Here is a beautiful poem to go with your candles – maybe you’ll have a chance to memorize it this week to recite when you light your homemade candles.
A candle’s but a simple thing,
It starts with just a bit of string.
But dipped or rolled with patient hand
It gathers was upon the strand.
Until complete and snowy white
It gives at last a lovely light.
Life seems so like that bit of string;
Each deed we do a simple thing.
Yet day by day upon life’s strand
We work with patient heart and hand.
It gathers joy, makes dark days bright
And gives at last a lovely light.
Want more ideas? Check out this post: Celebrating Candlemas.