Crafts for Every Holiday

Candlemas or Groundhog Day: February 2

Bet You Didn't Know

Candlemas was for many the traditional ending of the holiday season. All vestiges of Christmas were removed on this day and any greens were burned in the fireplace. The lady of the house made an inventory of the supply of candles and candle making was tradionally done at this time.

Safety Signals

Of course, no candles should be left burning unattended. Instruct your children to be especially aware of safey around burning candles. Watch fabric and any combustible materials. Always burn candles on something fireproof and keep them away from small children or pets.

On Candlemas, churches all over the world bless the candles that they will use throughout the coming year.

Celebrate Candlemas by gathering lots of candles and lighting them all. That night, do everything by candlelight, including eating dinner and reading your child's bedtime story. Put burning candles in front of mirrors for even more reflective light.

Look for tiny white flowers called snowdrops — also known as Candlemas Bells or Mary's tapers — peeking up through the snow. (Plant some bulbs next fall if you don't have any.)

Americans also celebrate February 2 as Groundhog Day. In times past, it was believed that hibernating animals (such as groundhogs) wake up on Candlemas Day and check to see if it's still winter. If it's a sunny day and the groundhog sees his shadow, he gets frightened and goes back to hibernate for 40 more days. It it's cloudy and he doesn't see his shadow, he stays above ground. So, if it's cloudy on February 2, that means an early spring.

Lincoln and Washington's Birthdays: February

I know, we're supposed to celebrate both Lincoln's and Washington's birthday on President's Day (February 19). Well, hogwash, I say! Instead, celebrate these events on their actual dates and give each president his due.

Make Lincoln's birthday, February 12, the day you and your children learn about Lincoln and his place in history. Bring out the Lincoln Logs building toys and make a log cabin. You can also make a Lincoln Log with your children for dessert. This is essentially the same as a Yule Log or Bûche de Noël, a traditional European holiday cake made to look like a log.

Consult your favorite cookbook or use the recipe below:

Lincoln Log Cake


  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or two (2 1/8-ounce) packages whipped topping mix
  • 1/4 cup instant powdered chocolate drink
  • 1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Grease a 15 1/2 × 10 1/2 × 1-inch jelly roll pan and line it with waxed paper. Grease the paper and set aside the pan.

  2. In a large bowl, beat the four eggs until foamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup of sugar and continue beating five minutes more. Sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the egg mixture and blend at low speed until well mixed. Stir in the vanilla and pour the batter into the jelly roll pan.

  3. Bake 15 to 18 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cake surface springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan onto a clean towel dusted with confectioners' sugar and peel off the waxed paper. Trim away the edges so they're uniform. Roll up the cake and towel and let cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack.

  4. Unroll the cake and remove the towel. Press the cake gently to flatten it. Spread a thin layer of jelly, fruit filling, softened cream cheese, chocolate or vanilla pudding, or any other desired filling over the cake. Re-roll, using the towel to coax it along. Place the cake seam-side down on a serving plate and chill for at least 2 hours.

  5. Make the frosting by beating the heavy cream until it's stiff and foldingin the instant chocolate drink and unsweetened cocoa. Frost the chilled cake and use the tines of a fork to give it the look of bark.

Celebrate Washington's real birthday on February 22. Make a cherry pie and read why it's associated with Washington's birthday. What is all that stuff about Washington crossing the Delaware, anyway? Couldn't explain it to your kids? Don't know why he's called The Father of Our Country? Then you have some boning up to do. Why not do it together?

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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