I know I have posted a lot of this information before but it's good to be reminded every year of the true feast on this day since the world glorifies Ground Hog Day every year! I originally wrote most of this several years ago,so the links that I list may have become inactive. I’m sure you can find other information on the web if you want to look it up. Isn’t it interesting that Candlemas is so completely forgotten that spell check doesn’t even recognize it?!
HOW CANDLEMAS BECAME GROUNDHOG DAY
February 2 is a forgotten Christian holiday. It comes exactly 39 days after Christmas -- or the “40th day of Christmas.” If Jesus had been born on December 25 (we don’t know the exact date of His birth, but Dec. 25 is when we celebrate it), then February 2 would have been the day that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple. (See story in Luke 2:22-38) February 2 is also known in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church as the “Meeting of our Lord in the Temple.”
Originally everyone in the west knew February 2 as “Candlemas Day” – the day Jesus “the light of the world” was brought in to the temple to be blessed. Thus, the years’ supply of candles for the church was blessed on that day. This holiday has been celebrated since at least the 4th century AD. "For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home.”
(Note: At our church – St Ignatius in Madison, WI – if someone remembered to order the candles in time – we bless the candles for our Easter Vigil Service a.k.a “Pascha.” Included with those candles is the Christ candle that the priest will hold. After Pascha, this candle then is kept in the altar area and used as the Christ candle in the Advent wreath before Christmas that year. Then the next year at Candlemas, a new candle is blessed to be the Christ candle.)
Since February 2 is at the half-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, superstitions began to arise about predicting the weather on that date:
According to an old English saying:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain
Winter will not come again.
And from Scotland:
If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.
Also from Germany:
For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.
In other words, if it were a nice sunny day, that would "jinx" the weather, and it would be wintry for the next six weeks until the spring equinox. If it was bad weather and the sky was overcast, then the weather would be good thereafter until spring.
Of course, if it were a nice sunny day, a burrowing animal could come out on Candlemas (Or "The Meeting of our Lord") and see his shadow -- in Germany they said it was a badger, and in England and Ireland they said it was a hedgehog. When the settlers came to America from England, they didn't find any hedge hogs, but there were lots of Groundhogs, and so Ground Hog Day was born! (From http://www.web-holidays.com/candle/ ) Let this be a warning to us that the Easter bunny doesn't hijack Pascha the way the Ground Hog has hijacked "The Meeting of our Lord" (Candlemas)!
Let’s reclaim this holiday -- this holy day -- for our Christian faith! Just think! Jesus, our Creator, allowed Himself to become a helpless human baby, carried in the arms of one of His own creations -- His mother Mary -- to fulfill the law that He, as part of the Holy Trinity, had given to Moses over a thousand years before!
“Let heaven’s gate be opened today. For He who is without beginning, the Word of the Father, taking a beginning in time, yet not abandoning His Godhead, is being willingly brought into the temple of the law as a babe of forty days by a Virgin Mother, and the Elder receives Him in his arms. The servant cries to the Master, ‘Release me, for my eyes have seen Your salvation’. You have come into the world to save the human race. Lord, glory to You!”
~ Menaion reading for February 2: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/general.htm )
This is the day that the Lord had made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever and unto the ages of ages, Amen.
Link to one of my cookbooks which should also lead you to the rest of them: recipes.sparkpeople.com/Cookbooks.as
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