Happy Candlemas Day, February 2nd, 2021

By Michael Traynor



What is Candlemas Day? In the Christian tradition, it marks the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple, with Christ representing the light coming to dispel darkness. For about 1500 years,  candles are blessed for sacred use for the ensuing year, coining this day as “Candlemas”.  As a non-Christian festival, February 2nd marks an ancient celebration of light, occurring at the midpoint of winter, halfway between the winter solstice (shortest day December 21) and spring equinox (March 20). Some celebrants went so far, usually after a few pints of ale, to claim the weather on Candlemas day predicts the weather for the rest of winter.   


If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will have another fight.

If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,

Winter won’t come again.


On Candlemas, spring is almost here!  Well, maybe not exactly imminent in Chicago, but Candlemas Day does usher in more hopeful dreaming of spring equinox weather, with the return of new life and vivid color to our landscape. To get that dreaming started, these pictures were shot on or near the March 20 equinox in Lincoln Park. Brighter and better days lie ahead. Sweet dreams.


A red-winged blackbird touched down after flying in from the south. It loudly announces its arrival, extends bright red wings that command plenty of space to taxi to the gate. Onward to start a cozy nest.


This young fellow spent the winter burrowed sleepily in a tree hollow, with forays out for sustenance. Now with warmth and food aplenty at the equinox, this excited squirrel looks positively exultant! 


This yellow forsythia has been patiently budding until welcomed by the bright sun, blue sky, and greening ground cover.  Now is its time.  Everything has its day in the sun.


We have twins!  Say hello kids. Pansies are hardy flowers good in cooler or shadier nooks, and so put on a show in very early spring like this, and again in autumn as sun and temperature moderates. 


Looking at these daffodils now in January in Chicago is a stark reminder as to why we wait for March or take a vacation.


The fragrant scent of this hyacinth is every bit as powerful as is the shock of its deep blue color.  If you Spring on steroids.


The first robin of the season, surrounded by fields of newly blooming blue scilla.  To me, the most iconic harbinger of spring. Worms beware…