Twelfth Night and Kagami-Biraki (the final day of the New Year’s celebrations in Japan) have now passed, so I’ve packed away all the Yule and New Year decorations from my altar and starting them to replace them with items suitable for festivals in February.
The most prominent festival coming up is Imbolc. Brighid is the deity most closely associated with this festival, so my homemade felt Brighid doll takes centre place. I’ve also added some white paper roses in a white vase, as well as my large white selenite crystal, as white is probably the colour most commonly used for Imbolc. I will be adding candles – perhaps the most important Imbolc symbol of all – and also hope to add a Brighid’s Cross if I find time to make one.
The Japanese equivalent of Imbolc is Setsubun, sometimes known as the “Bean throwing festival” as one of the most popular activities on this day is to scatter beans outside the home to drive away oni (demons). A female figure called Otafuku is commonly represented at this festival, so I have hung my handmade salt dough Otafuku face above Brighid. I’ll be making offerings of beans on my altar at Setsubun itself.
Early to mid February also sees Valentine’s Day (Feb 14th) and Waitangi Day (Feb 6th), a prominent holiday in New Zealand celebrating the treaty between the Maori and European settlers. As my husband is a Kiwi, I think it is important to celebrate his heritage on my altar and Waitangi Day seems like a suitable time to do this. To represent New Zealand, I have put a paua (albalone) shell on my altar, in addition to a beautiful decoration of black and silver roses made from New Zealand flax. Both of these items were used on our wedding – the shell held our rings and the roses topped our cake – so they tie in neatly with Valentine’s Day as well!