The first of the month so I hope you said ‘white rabbits’ this morning to guarantee good luck for the whole month. No one seems sure where the tradition originated but we have said it in our family for years.
This rabbit is, of course, a marionette. Well, in our family of puppeteers it would be wouldn’t it? I think as a child I too was influenced by the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ like many others. This was confirmed by the programme on TV about Lewis Carroll last night.
That rabbit has a lot to answer for, nipping down that rabbit hole. As I was born during the war, in retrospect I often felt like Alice flailing around in the dark. Also early childhood in our house and parents who were puppeteers meant life could never be one of normality!
Tomorrow is Candlemas. Some people believe that the early Christians took over an earlier tradition that originated in Rome. A feast held in honour of Proserpina Ceres’ child who was stolen from her by Pluto, god of the underground. Ceres sought her child by night and day carrying a torch.
It is said that on Candlemas Day itself, branches of box tree were put up till Easter. Here is a poem by Herrick, who lived until 1674 in Dean Priory and who took a great interest in country customs. This poem was printed in his book ‘Hesperides’:
Down with the rosemary, and bays,
Down with the Mistletoe,
Instead of holly now upraise
The greener box (for show).
The holly hitherto did sway.
Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter Day
Or Easter’s Eve appear.
Source of information ‘A Year Book of Customs’ by Christine Chaundler.
I light one or tea lights or a candle most winter evenings for no good reason, the dancing flame always seems a good omen.
The candles below are lit at an Arvon writing centre and always seemed to be condusive to the journey of creative writing