We have snowdrops! They are a little early, but we shouldn’t complain – they’re only trying to be prompt. They actually aren’t due until Candlemas on February 2nd.
As there are none of the original Celts around at present, and as the current trend is towards alternative truths, it is hard to know what to believe. It would seem, though, that it all goes back the Brighid, a Celtic Goddess. Fire was one of Her responsibilities, so the arrival of snowdrops – looking like small candles – was presumed to be a sign that now would be a good time to light a candle and scare all the hob-goblins of Winter away. Cunningly, Spring was waiting in the wings, so this ritual stood a good chance of working.
Of course, if we were going to scare all sorts of nasty boogie-men away it would be good if we all got together – just in case (there being safety in numbers and all that). If we’re going to have a get together, well – we might as well have a party, mightn’t we?
The early Christians certainly didn’t want to miss out on a good party so they imported Brighid – lock, stock and candles – into Christianity as Saint Bridget and Candlemas.
If you want older than Celtic, then there’s always the candles that Demeter used to search the Underworld – looking for her daughter Persephone (who brought the Spring with her when she came back up to Earth). The Ancient Greeks had a word for it.
So much choice for such a small unassuming flower.