3rd Year Week 5 HT06

Topic: Traditional festivals

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Traditional February Festivals

February 2nd: Candlemas Day
Candlemas Day was originally a Roman festival celebrating the start of spring, before being overlaid with the festival of the Purification of the Virgin, celebrated with pageants, religious plays and the lighting of candles. In some parts of Scotland, Candlemas was also seen as the traditional day for handfasting, a system of betrothal and trial marriage. The liaison was breakable by either party without penalty at the end of a year if the woman had not conceived. Schoolchildren also traditionally gave their teachers small gifts on this day.

Today, it is regarded as one of the legal 'Quarter Days', when rents and other duties must be paid. The Quarter Days are the basis of the ancient agricultural calendar used by the Celts in Britain and Ireland. Some scholars believe the four-fold division of the year may be pre-Celtic in origin.

February 14th: St Valentine's Day
Celebrated in Scotland as all over Europe, traditionally young unmarried people drew from a box names written on pieces of paper to see who their sweethearts would be for the coming year.

Glasgow is one of three cities in Europe who claim to hold the bones of the original St Valentine. According to popular belief, a third of St. Valentine's remains are stored in the Italian city of Terni, a third in Dublin and the final third in Glasgow. It is certainly the case that in the 19th century a wealthy French Catholic family possessed a number of holy relics, including the mortal remains of St. Valentine. As the family dwindled, one of the last survivors began to feel responsibility for the relics and spoke to Father Stephen Porton, Commissary of the Holy Land in France. Father Porton, having heard of the new Franciscan Church being built in Glasgow, persuaded Father Victor Cartuyvels, Provincial Minister of the Friars in Belgium, to give the relics a more permanent sanctuary. They first arrived in Glasgow in 1868, with all the requisite authentications, and remained at St. Francis's until the Franciscans moved to the Blessed Duns Scotus parish in the 1990s.

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Traditional Festivals