by Melanie McDonagh
"In fact, I’d say myself that we shouldn’t give up on Christmas until Candlemas, February 2. That was the way the Church’s calendar intended it: the Christmas season extended right through the second most dispiriting month of the year, right into the most depressing one. January without Christmas can be a downbeat month, but if we think of it as a modified extension of the Christmas season, it has an altogether different character.
There couldn’t be a worse time for the New Year, New You thing of giving up starchy carbs; this is exactly the time we should be eating them, having our friends round. It’s still the time for filling your house with candles and greenery, and entertaining. Candlemas Eve, not Epiphany, used to be the time when people took down their sprays of greenery, holly and ivy. As Robert Herrick put it in his poem for the Eve: “Down with the Rosemary and Bayes, down with the Mistletoe; Instead of Holly now up-raise the greener Box, for show…” And so on, with all the green stuff of Christmas being replaced with their springtime equivalents, to celebrate Whitsun or Easter."