Local history society remembers the light-measuring customs

The 2. February, the "lichtmesstag", used to be an important date in the christian calendar. 40 days after the birth of christ it commemorated mary's visit to the temple. "The presentation of the lord was celebrated in the old church with a festival of lights, which, like many things, goes back to a roman custom. The romans held ceremonial walks with burning torches on this day to cleanse themselves of their sins and called it "februare" (=clean). "Februa" was also the name of the feast of suhne and purification celebrated in february.

In addition, a woman who gave birth to a boy was considered "unclean" for 40 days. During this time, she was not allowed to leave the house or participate in public life. She was only accepted back into society after her visit to the temple. These customs made it possible for the mother to take care of the newborn during the first weeks after the birth.

The christian church could not stop this custom, and at the end of the fifth century this feast was recognized as a christian one. The purification of mary after her birth was celebrated on this day. The germanic tribes also worshipped the supernatural-mysterious power of fire and light, it was a symbol of life and lumination. In christianity the belief in the power of consecrated candles and wax sticks was deeply rooted in the people. They promised protection from illness and sudden death. Also storms, lightning and hail should be kept away with it. Therefore it is not surprising that in some catholic families still today a consecrated candle is lit when a bad storm rages outside.

According to popular belief, on this day the badger leaves its winter camp: if it sees its shadow, i.E. If there is sunshine, it returns to its cave and it remains cold for another 40 days. Numerous rhymes in the rural area have been preserved for a long time: "on candlemas, the masters can eat by day, the rich if they want to, the poor if they have it"." In french it was said that "if there is sunshine on candlemas, it will be a late spring"!"

In addition to the religious-cultic motifs, the day of candlemas had a special significance in the world of peasant labor. The days had lengthened to the point where work in the house and barn could be done without lighting. Candlemas was an important day for the farmhands and maids on the farms. They were now allowed to change the master of the service, they were allowed to change or change their handshake employment contracts. Peter bucher, senior farmer in hammerbach, reports on such contracts and at the same time recalls the earlier "lichtmess" fairs, when the servants converted part of their annual wages into new clothes or necessary articles of daily use. In our region, such fairs in erlangen or forchheim were particularly popular.

About 100 years ago, the annual wage for a farmhand was 150 marks, with free room and board. Magde usually got a little less. In addition, on sundays and holidays there was a financial allowance of 20 to 30 marks. The increasing technology in agriculture, the economic boom and the improvement of the quality of life, higher earnings, regular working hours and the desire for a free weekend led to the fact that the feast of maria lichtmess lost more and more of its importance.

The local history society has been commemorating this day for several years now and invites people to a free night watch tour at 6 p.M. In the run-up to candlemas. The concert begins at 6 p.M. At the georgs fountain on the market square. Afterwards there is the possibility to warm up in steinweg 5. 

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