Commonly, today is Groundhog Day. Religiously, it's Candlemas or Imbolc. In my house, it's the Feast of Persephone.
You know Persephone's story, right? She's the daughter of the Greek goddess Ceres, who was in charge of the harvest. Hades kidnapped Persephone and married her. But her mother grieved such that it sent the world into eternal winter. Zeus was forced to intervene, but--for some reason that's never been quite clear to me--his power was limited. Because Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds during her time in the underworld she was required to spend six months there every year from then on out. When Persephone is in the underworld each year, it's winter. When she comes back to earth, her mother is happy again, and we get spring and summer.
It's a pretty story, and one that's always captured my imagination. Because you can see her coming back this time of year, that sweet Persephone, little by little. You can see it in the sunset that's just a little later every day. And in the chickens that start to lay eggs again. And in the wind that suddenly isn't quite so bitter. And in the birds that are (once again!) attempting to set up housekeeping on my back porch. And in the humans, choosing Valentines and pouring over seed catalogs.
And so, our family always marks the day, even if it's just with something small. In year's past we've had little picnics outside or made special cookies. This year was a little chilly--and Little Miss isn't quite ready to eat from a plate on her lap--so we stayed inside and had dinner by candlelight, instead.
In my joy that January is (finally) over, I think I lit every candle in the house. The Kid quickly embraced the novelty by turning out all the other lights, and Little Miss giggled as we ate in the half-dark.
Outside the wind is blowing hard and they say that we may get a dust of snow by morning. But it's going to be spring soon--with red tulips and fuzzy chicks and days at the park--and that's so much to look forward to. Welcome back, Persephone!