Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Of Candles And Kindles

Today is Candlemas- the date in the liturgical calendar for the celebration of the Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple.

vouet presentation of jesus louvre 

[Simon Vouet’s 1641 painting of “The Presentation of Jesus” from the Louvre]

beeswax candles



The day gets its name from the fact it was also the date on which people brought their beeswax candles to church, for the priest to bless them.





These days, people are more likely to take not a candle but a Kindle to bed with them. You can’t beat a good bedtime story! Which makes it very appropriate that this is the middle of National Storytelling Week.

The Society for Storytelling has lots of information on their website


The website says…

The Society for Storytelling was set up to promote the oldest art form in the world. Storytelling is at the root of every art form: we think in story form, make sense of our world in narrative – from something we’ve seen, through last night’s television, to what family and folk stories we remember and retell.  Performance storytelling can be a powerful experience, both entertaining and moving. Story is also the traditional medium of communication from generation to generation, a tool for education and therapy.

National Storytelling Week was conceived in the year 2000 to increase public awareness of the art, practice and value of oral storytelling. It is held during the first week of February every year.

This week was chosen because it is not too close to Christmas and coincides with Candlemas, which falls on the 2nd of February. Part of the rituals for this old church festival includes a blessing on the throat, a prime tool in the store of nearly all storytellers of every belief and culture.

Although I am a little confused by the last sentence- I understood the ‘Blessing of the Throat’ to be part of the celebration of St Blaise’s Day – which is tomorrow, February 3rd!

“Two candles are blessed, held slightly open, and pressed against the throat as the blessing is said. Saint Blaise's protection of those with throat troubles apparently comes from a legend that a boy was brought to him who had a fishbone stuck in his throat. The boy was about to die when Saint Blaise healed him.”

st blaise candles

Whatever day these things are remembered, it is a good thing to encourage storytelling. My parents and grandparents were great at storytelling, and it is wonderful to have such a heritage.


I love telling stories- whether to one child, a class, or a crowd in a pink and purple circus tent at the Village Fun Day.


My favourite stories for telling to children** are [not surprisingly] Bible stories

Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;
Things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here;
Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,
Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

– and I love stories about the lives of real people – but I love good fiction too – whether it is vintage [C S Lewis] or modern [Michael Morpurgo]

[**and adults]

What stories do you enjoy telling?


  1. Oh, I love reading stories and listening to friends tell their stories.
    It's our granddaughter's second birthday today so I'm praying for HER story.
    Thank you for sharing stories with me, Angela.

  2. This was so interesting! I love telling stories, Bible stories and ones handed down through the family. I also like reading and hearing stories handed down from England, Scotland, and Ireland...I think because of the family connections and because the legends are always so awesome. :-)

  3. I love telling allegories. Don't you think teachers should have some late August blessings of the throat- and again at about this time of the cold-ridden year?! At last- I can love the candle-Kindle post! Comment didn't turn out as planned!!


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