Thursday, February 2

Candlemas and Groundhog Day

Candlemas is a festival held to celebrate the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem in accordance with Mosaic Law (Leviticus 12:6,7). When Jesus was presented, Simeon took him in his arms and called him "a light to lighten the gentiles" (Luke 2:32). Traditionally, churches in Western Christendom would host a procession of congregants holding candles in commemoration of Christ as the Light of the World.

According to an old bit of Sussex folklore: “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight; But if it be dark with clouds and rain, Winter is gone, and will not come again." This is a much older and really, a more beautiful tradition than our current Groundhog ritual which has, in any case, all but supplanted Candlemas on this day. A real pity, don't you think?

By the way, the forecast here calls for rain--all day long!


Eric F. Langborgh said...

This is quite interesting. Though I'm not sure superstitious prognostications about the seasons dressed in Christian garb are really much better than the secular variety. The argument can easily be made that it is worse.

That said, I do agree wholeheartedly with you that the tradition of Candlemas Day (w/o that extra superstitious fluff) *is* much better than Groundhog Day, and I'd like to see the Church and our culture recover it.

Thank you, Dr. Grant, for the excllent work you do and the encouragement and historical edification with which you provide the saints through this site and your ministry.

gileskirk said...

Actually, I see this sort of thing as a reflection of Tolkien's notion that Christian folklore and fairy tales can be quite wonderful--and rather than obscuring the Gospel with superstition, they can often enrich the textures of daily life.