The February Feast celebrates the first stirrings of the coming spring, which can be difficult to detect in the upper Midwest at this time of year. Although my northern and western European ancestors may have been delighted by the availability of fresh milk after the first part of the winter, my experience in an urban environment of the 21st century does easily not lend itself to such a connection.
As a Druid working in the Hellenic tradition, the February Feast poses a second challenge. How do I incorporate a holiday into my practice that derives from Celtic, Gaulish, and Germanic traditions? Although there are similar festivals in the Ancient Greek practice, differences in agricultural, economic, and social realities do not readily lend themselves to a clearly compatible celebration.
To resolve this dilemma, I focus on the hearth customs of the season and the festival’s associations with fire and purification. In Hellenic paganism, Hestia, the Goddess of the Hearth and the figurative representation of the hearth fire, plays a crucial role in the spiritual lives of the people. Although there are virtually no myths about Hestia, her prominence in the lives of the Ancient Greeks is evident in the many offerings she received within the household and the critical importance of keeping the home hearth lit at all times.
The hearth fire was, for all Indo-European peoples, the center of domestic life. Fire protected people from predators, it provided warmth and comfort, and was the means by which food was prepared. In short, the hearth was an instrument of survival.
While my friends in the larger Neopagan community are celebrating hearth culture in the Celtic or Germanic traditions, I find it natural to do the same. I focus on giving thanks to Hestia, on celebrating the coming spring, and purification.
Psychologically, the February Feast plays a critical role for me because I know that astronomical and meteorological spring are not far away; the long dark of winter can wreak havoc on my mood. So I use the February Feast as a time to clear the mental slate and prepare for the brighter days ahead. This is my last real winter rest.