I haven’t posted an article since Epiphany, Ukraine’s Christmas. I was very busy during the last month. John has been evicted, but there is nothing I can do to help him. He requires more than I can offer. A home for seniors could be his best option. John suffers from Ménière’s disease. He is nearly deaf and he hugs the walls.
But today February is foremost in my mind. It has been extremely cold. We missed groundhog day but we did not Candlemas, la chandeleur. La Chandeleur invites longer days. In the Northern hemisphere, each new day is slightly longer than the previous day. Candlemas, is also the day Simeon recognized the child Jesus as the Savior and the day His mother was purified.
Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634) is a painter of the Dutch Golden Age of painting. He was born in Amsterdam, where he was trained by Danish-born portrait painter Pieter Isaacsz. He moved to Kampen in 1608. Avercamp’s favorite subject matter was winter inhabited by people and their pets going about their everyday activity: working, fishing, or skating and otherwise amusing themselves on the ice. In other words, he was genre artist when genre painting was a new frontier. Moreover, Avercamp lived during a period known as the “little ice age.”
Interestingly, Avercamp painted as though he stood slightly above his subject matter. He used an aerial perspective. He made sketches of his winter scenes which he transformed into paintings in warmer seasons. Hendrick Avercamp was mute and probably deaf, and he is therefore known as “de Stomme van Kampen.”
February was a busy month, but we have almost caught up. The Pagan precursor of St Valentine’s Day was Lupercalia.
Above is Louis-Claude Daquin’s “Le Coucou” (The Cuckoo). Les Grands Hurleurs’ “Coucou” is an arrangement of Louis-Claude Daquin‘s “Coucou.” Daquin’s “Coucou” is not folklore, but it borders on traditional music and music we call “classical.” Daquin composed several Noëls, Christmas Carols. Christmas Carols are not looked upon as “folklore,” but they are traditional music. Christians sing Carols on Christmas Day and during the Christmas period. For Christians, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, but it is also on or near the Winter solstice, the day of the longest night. Today is Candlemas(La Chandeleur), a festival oflightsand currently Groundhog Day (le Jour de la Marmotte).
Feasts are celebrated according to a natural calendar. This begins with the degree of light and darkness: two solstices, and in the middle of the two solstices (Christmas and la Saint-Jean) are the Vernal equinox of Spring and the Autumnal equinox (Michaelmas). And to return to traditional music, it is associated with feasts that are celebrated according to the above-mentioned natural calendar. Noëls are performed during the Christmas season.
Février, Les Très Riches Heures de Jean de France, duc de Berry(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Happy Valentine’s Day to you!
Today is Valentine’s Day: la Saint-Valentin. My best wishes to all of you.♥
I have written several posts on Valentine’s Day and did some research again yesterday. This time, I read Wikipedia’s entry on Valentine’s day in which it is stated that there is no link between Lupercalia and Valentine’s Day. Lupercalia was replaced by Candlemas. As for Valentine’s Day, a celebration of Romantic love, it was all but invented by Chaucer who called the day “seynt” Valentine’s Day.
Chaucer was a prisoner during the Hundred Years’ War. When he was released, he took to England the French Roman de la Rose, a work of literature that epitomizes courtly love. However, it was an exchange. Charles d’Orléans, who was detained in England for 25 years during the Hundred Years’ War, took to France not only poems he had written referring to Valentine, but also the lore of Valentine’s Day as it existed in England. Legend has it, wrote Chaucer, that birds mate on 14 February.
For this was on seynt Volantynys day Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
[“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]
So let us make matters as clear as possible. It is reported that Pope Saint Gelasius I (494–96 CE) wanted to replace a “pagan” feast, called Lupercalia (from lupus, wolf), with a Christian feast. Candlemas was the new feast and it did not replace Lupercalia. It would be celebrated 40 days after Christmas, on 2nd February, and honour three closely-related events:
Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the Meeting of the Lord, when Simeon’s wish came true. Simeon was an old man who wanted to see Jesus before he died and, having seen Jesus, said now you dismiss. His words are the words of a canticle(un cantique), a song of praise and joy, entitled “Nunc dimittis.”
Let us note, however, that the above-mentioned feast is called Candlemas, laChandeleur, which suggests a possible festival of lights. From the most remote and pagan antiquity, humans have always celebrated the degree of lightness and darkness from season to season. Carnival season ended on Ash Wednesday, or the day after Mardi Gras, a day of revelry and merriment.
Easter: the moveable feast
near the vernal equinox
Our next feast is Easter, which is celebrated near the vernal equinox a day when night and day are approximately of the same duration or nearly equal. Christmas is the day of the longest night. So, on 14 February, Valentine’s Day, the days are getting longer, but we have not reached the vernal equinoctial day of the year.
St Valentine’s Day
Lupercalia and the Ides of February
Valentine’s Day and Lupercalia
Candlemas did not replace Lupercalia, a fertility ritual and a day of purification. If St Valentine’s Day (la Saint-Valentin) is the day on which birds mate, there would be a commonality between Lupercalia and Valentine’s day. But the Ides of February, which fell on 13 February, were Lupercalia. (See Lupercalia, Wikipedia.) As shown The better-known Ides are the Ides of March, “the 15th day of the Roman month of Martius[,]” a day associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar who developed the Julian Calendar. (See The Ides of March, Wikipedia.)
The Gregorian Calendar: the Ides of February
The Julian Calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar, because feasts, Easter in particular, no longer matched the seasons. Gregorian refers to Pope Gregory XIII and the Gregorian Calendar was introduced in 1582. Candlemas celebrated on 2 February, but the Ides of February remained the middle of February which is when Valentine’s Day is celebrated.
Saint Valentine’s Day is listed on a page entitled: Posts on Love Celebrated. La Chandeleur, Candlemas would not be linked to Valentine’s Day. Its proper source is the commemoration of a martyr. associated with Februus, a god and Februarius a month perhaps, the Ides of February.
Presentation of Christ in the Temple, from the Sherbrooke Missal c. 1310 – c. 1320 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today is Candlemas, now better known as “grounhog day” or “pancake day.” When I was a child, Candlemas, laChandeleur, was a religious holiday that was also a festival of lights: la fête des lumières. We didn’t know it was groundhog day, nor did we know it was pancake day. We lived in the very Catholic province of Quebec, which was then a priest-ridden province and is now, otherwise ridden.
However, times have changed. In Quebec, today is le jour de la marmotte and la fête des crêpes. Quebec has therefore caught up to the rest of the world. Apparently, Groundhog Day is a German tradition. (See Groundhog Day, Wikipedia.) Ironically , it could be that many Quebecers do not remember la Chandeleur, or Candlemas.
We owe Candlemas to Pope Gelasius I who died in Rome on the 19 November c. 496 CE and is now a saint. Saint Gelasius wanted to replace Lupercalia, a disorderly pagan feast with a Christian feast, celebrated about 12 days later than 2 February. It was Candlemas, which eventually would take place on 2 February, according to the Gregorian calendar. Most Christian feasts are celebrated on the same day as a pagan feast and they inaugurate or close a season, the four seasons and liturgical seasons.
Humans have also celebrated the day of the longest night, the winter Solstice, and the day of the longest day, the summer Solstice. They have also celebrated the days when day and night are the same length: equinoctial points, or an Equinox. This is the logic according to which Christian feasts are celebrated. It is a matter of season and one of continuity.
According to the book of Luke (Luke 2:29-32), Simeon, a devout Jew, had been promised by the Holy Ghost that he would see the Saviour before his death. He recognized Jesus when he was brought to the Temple for the ceremony of the Presentation of the first-born son. Having seen Jesus, a Jew, with his own eyes, he sang a canticle in which he says that now (nunc) he could leave: “Now let me leave…”
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel. Book of Common Prayer, 1662
There are equinoctial tides that occur near the time of an equinox. In France, they are called marées d’équinoxe. They were spectacular where I lived in Normandy. One could not see the water from the shore. When the water returned, it did rapidly. Sheep grazed on the prés salés (salted meadows), called présalés, at Mont-Saint-Michel. It could be that the tides brought the salt. Before or after walking to the Abbey, we would eat crêpes. There was a lovely restaurant at the foot of the hill. Sometimes we drove to Saint-Malô to eat crêpes. Tides occurring on solstices are less dramatic than equinoctial tides.
The Christian seasons are also called “tides:” Christmastide, Epiphanytide, Eastertide, etc. Christianity has more seasons than nature’s four seasons. We are not entering a tide, but an Ordinary Time that will end on Ash Wednesday (10 February, this year) or Pentecost. (See Eastertide, Wikipedia.)
The RELATED ARTICLES, listed below, will lead you to all relevant posts and songs.
Head of Christ by Rembrandt, c. 1650 – 52 (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)
The posts listed below tell the story of our Seasons, Feasts, Festivals and feature Christian Hymnology. Our first feast is Christmas (“The Four Seasons…”), the origin of comedy, and posts related to the birth of Christ.
This post will become a page, or a category, entitled “Feasts and Hymnology.”
Today, 2 February 2015, we are entering the Marian year’s second season, the first takes us from Advent to Candlemas(la Chandeleur), once an observed feast commemorating the presentation of the child Jesus at the Temple. The second lasts until Good Friday.
In other words, as of today the Marian song is the Ave Regina Cælorum. From the beginning of Advent until today, it had been the Alma Redemptoris Mater. Several composers have set the words of the Alma Redemptoris Mater and the same is true of the Ave Regina Cælorum.
The “Nunc dimittis” or Canticle of Simeon (Cantique)
Also sung today is the Nunc dimittis(“Now you dismiss…,” Luke 2:29–32), The Song of Simeon or Canticle of Simeon). Simeon had been promised he would see Jesus and did. A canticle is a song of praise. In this respect, the Nunc Dimittis resembles the Magnificat, or Canticle of Mary. Mary sang the Magnificat when she heard her cousin Elizabeth was with child. To listen to the Nunc Dimittis and read its story, simply click on one of the links below:
Greek poet Hesiod, who is believed to have been active between 750 and 650 BCE, wrote Works and Days, a book Wikipedia describes as a farmer’s almanac. In Works and Days, he is teaching his brother Perses about the agricultural arts. (See Works and Days.)
Today is February 3rd, but there are more Candlemas stories to tell. For instance, Candlemas is also “pancake feast,” la fête des crêpes, a tradition that goes back to ancient Greece. In ancient Greece, Lupercus was the god Pan. In ancient Roman, the feast was called Lupercalia (lupus, loup) but it was usually celebrated in mid-February, on the 13th. It had to do with keeping the wolf away from innocent sheep. Lupercus was the god of shepherds. I will tell more stories next February 2nd.
We now have three posts on Candlemas and know about
the antiphon of the season “Ave Regina Cælorum,”[i]
and Groundhog Day.
I realize that fewer people go to a service on Sunday or attend Mass, but music and the fine arts have kept alive religious, mythological and mythical “reality.” Aert de Gelder (or Arent, 26 October 1645 – 27 August 1727), a student of Rembrandt, painted Simeon holding the child Jesus and, as noted above, Simeon sang the Nunc dimittis when he saw Jesus, as he had been told by none other than the Holy Ghost. (See Nunc Dimittis, Wikipedia). Religious feasts are usually associated with the seasons, mythologies give us a past, myths provide metaphors, and feed the imagination. Yet myths are the fruit of imagination.
Palestrina is known for composing “transparent” polyphonic (many voices) music. Although the voices blend, one can still hear the text. This was important because the Reformed Churches favoured simple songs. I have found precious gems in the Church of England’s anthems. They engaged the faithful who were invited to sing. The English wrote lovely, melodious anthems. Martin Luther wrote hymns, the most famous of which is Ein’ feste Burg is unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is our God).
In the News
Canadian Conrad Black, no choirboy himself, has stated that “[t]he election of Kathleen Wynne and Pauline Marois’ Scotland visit might incite fear that much of Canada is being led by nasty women.” (See The National Post.)
He could be right; women can be as nasty as men. I know, from personal experience, that women can in fact surpass men in cruelty, jealousy, hypocrisy, etc. They can be extremely manipulative, devious and vindictive. Think of my little blue house. (See From House to House.) My “case manager” was a woman employed by a fine insurance company. She did not lose her position.
One day, a “good” woman posted the results of an examination on the door of her office, listing her students’ marks, not next to a number, but next to a name. I talked with her gently, but she did not know what I was talking about… However, a little later, such behaviour became an official violation. This may seem a detail, but good educators respect their students. That’s rule number one.
Not that men are better. I am thinking of that student in India, raped and probably impaled to death. The poor young woman and her poor parents! And there is violence in the Middle East. Why? Also in the news is suicide. Young people are committing suicide!