Candlemas is the Christian feast day which commemorates the presentation of the baby Jesus at the Temple. It was also the official end of Christmas in the Middle Ages. However, in pre-Christian times, this February celebration was a festival of light marking the mid-point of winter, halfway between the winter solstice (shortest day) and the spring equinox. Perhaps it is more this pre-Christian significance which underpins the traditional
Candlemas agricultural livestock sales and markets ; it is a good midway point in the winter season which, for hard working stock farmers, must bring the promise that spring is no longer just a distant prospect. Even so they will also be aware of that traditional saying ‘April is the hungriest month of the year’ (as far as the appetites of their growing animals are concerned). Many livestock auctioneers in the country, especially in the south west, hold Candlemas sales and this week (beginning 8th February) both Frome and Salisbury are holding their special Candlemas markets of store cattle (Salisbury on Thursday and Frome on Friday). Vendors and buyers alike eagerly support the date and the tradition results in quality animals being presented and top prices being achieved. In this unusually cold, frosty (and still Covid-ridden) season, one salutes the determination and ‘grit’ of farmers, hauliers and auctioneering staff in getting thousands of cattle to and through the sale rings and on to their new homes. We wish them a happy and successful Candlemas!