February 1 or 2 is the date of many holidays – Imbolc, Candlemas, and Oya’s Feast Day, among others – but one that I especially love is “Wives’ Feast Day,” celebrated in Ireland and Northern England. Wives’ Feast Day is, as I understand it, a day for women to gather amongst themselves and enjoy food and one another’s company, especially within the context of honoring all that women do to create nurturing and happy homes.
Society has changed greatly since Wives ‘ Feast Day began centuries ago. First, many women are not wives. Still, Wives’ Feast Day is for you even if you are not married. In fact, the word “wife” originally meant “woman,” and not specifically a woman who was married. And, almost all women I know shoulder significant housework duties, whether or not they are married, or live by themselves, with family, or with others, or whether they work outside the home or not.
Even the concept of “home” has changed. To me, making a “home” may mean making a house a place of peace and comfort, or it can mean creating a business, university, or community where everyone feels welcome, or making wherever one dwells “homelike” for those who do not have homes for whatever reason. So, Wives’ Feast Day should be considered a day for women to celebrate themselves for the considerable work they do to make themselves and others “homes” of all kinds.
I love that many women celebrate Wives’ Feast Day by gathering together among themselves to feast and have fun. One “home” we so often don’t recognize but which is essential to our happiness and health is the “home” we create with other women. Whenever we come together with other women and strengthen our bonds, talk about what is important to us, encourage each other, and create our community, we are making a very special kind of home that we all need and that makes possible our other work in the world outside our women’s “home.”
Of course, changes in society have also made it sometimes difficult to celebrate Wives’ Feast Day in the traditional way. On February 1, I will be up at 5:30 am and at work by 6:45 am, then home at 6 pm or so, with evening chores keeping me busy till time to go to bed – not much opportunity there for feasting. February 2, a Saturday, holds a little more promise, but still weekend chores generally make it hard for most of my friends to gather at any one time and place. I would imagine that many women can cite similar schedules.
That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Wives’ Feast Day. I think that what I will do is take a little extra time and go down to the local supermarket to get some special take-out for lunch, with maybe enough to share with the two or three women in my office. I’ll see if we can take even a half-hour to share some special food and time together. Perhaps on Saturday I’ll see if I can meet a friend for tea and make sure that I go ahead and have a piece of cake or cookie that I might not otherwise. It should also be said that more men are making “homes” so perhaps a “Wives’” Feast Day could include any men in your household who make your home with you if you like.
Wives’ Feast Day also coincides with Imbolc, the day when we mark the first stirrings of spring, of course. I think it is most appropriate to honor the Earth and Her abundance on Wives’ Feast Day, for the Earth is our greater home, the home that connects us all, and She is the source of all the food we feast on and the materials that we use to make our homes of whatever kind. Perhaps one way to celebrate Wives’ Feast Day is to also honor all those beings in nature, from the Earth herself, to animals, and plants, who join with us to make our homes, to reaffirm our place in the web that connects us all as Creators. Whether by simply being mindful of the Earth’s generosity as we eat or by doing some form of environmentally activism that helps sustain the Earth, we can make the Earth an essential part of our Wives’ Feast Day.
I am posting this a few days before Wives’ Feast Day so we can all do a little planning and perhaps celebrate this holiday. If you find some special way to observe Wives’ Feast Day, I would love to hear about it in a comment!