IV: Snowdrop

A one-time flower ceremony became a US holiday.

IV: Snowdrop
Snowdrops bowing their heads. Photo by Yoksel 🌿 Zok / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is quartidi, the 4th of Pluviôse, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate le perce-neige, a bulb flower that's the first, too-early herald of spring.

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When you're dying to see something alive, a snowdrop is a welcome sight. Native to Mediterranean highlands and happy to grow wherever elevation meets mild coastal air, snowdrops have accumulated a lot of metaphorical weight over the years. (That will happen when you're the only flower in the field.) Some species are endangered, including one in Russia that had its entire habitat plowed for the Sochi Winter Olympics. 

Of all the obvious snubs to the Catholic church on the calendar (making Christmas "dog day," starting the year in autumn instead of spring, changing the number of days in the week to confound the sabbath), I think this is my favorite. While not celebrated as widely or as culturally as it was 300 years ago, Candlemas was definitely the day of snowdrops ... and so snowdrop day was put exactly 10 days earlier, reinforcing both the ten-day week and the "we don't care about your traditions" attitude while still giving celebratory due to everyone's favorite first flower of spring.

The only place outside die-hard Catholic circles where Candlemas is still widely celebrated is ... the United States of America, where it's darn near a national holiday. We just renamed it. And we don't know anything about snowdrops. What am I talking about? Let's go on a journey.

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