Monday, February 2, 2015

More Enlightening About Candlemas

Here are more notes of Groundhog Day--thanks to some Facebook friends!

From Tyler, a priest in the Catholic Church:  Candlemass is also known as the "Presentation of the Lord in the Temple". It is a feast day commemorating Luke 2:22-40 when the baby Jesus was presented in the temple by Mary and Joseph in accordance with Jewish practice, dedicating the first born son in remembrance of the Passover 40 days after birth. Today is the 40th day after Christmas. In the Gospel passage, the prophet SImeon prophesies that Jesus would be a Lumen Gentium-Light to the nations. So it became the custom to bless all the candles that would be used in the church for the coming year. The candle tradition was more than likely also a pagan tradition having to do with the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.Also in Rome today is the traditional day to take down the Christmas tree and put away the Nativity scene. Sort of the official end to the Christmas time for the beginning of Lent.

From my friend Teddy:

this ones for you. found it on the history channel web site: Teddy Butler Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal--the hedgehog--as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State

Where in the Heck Did Groundhog Day Come From?

Have you ever wondered how Ground Hog Day got started?  Me too!  I'm still not sure of the current holiday's true origins, but I do know that Feb. 2 is roughly half-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  So we're already half way to Spring!  (Except that in these northers climes Spring does't actually arrive until sometime in May, if we're lucky.)  No matter.

In doing a bit of reading I've learned that there is a holiday or festal observance in all four of the seasons.  Feb. 2 is the one between midwinter and spring's "arrival".  In the Medieval Church is was called Candlemas.  And since the Medieval Church tended to make Holy Days ('Hoildays') out of pagan observances, I think this is probably the case.  I need to do more research on Candlemas...

The next midpoint is half-way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.  It is May 1!  Sound familiar?  It's long been celebrated as May Day.  And there are probably a lot of pagan fertility rites in its dark past.  Bu the way I've run across one of its ancient names--Beltane.  The Church took care of it by calling it May Crowning, when the Virgin Mary is crowned the Queen of the May--whatever that means.

No one will be surprised to learn that the midpoint between the Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice is Oct. 31 or Nov. 1.  This is the one that seems to have the most overtones and observance in our modern day.  Halloween with all its ghostly trapping is obvious.  In ancient times is was called Samhain--and was the night of the dead.  The Church took over and named Nov. 1 All Saints Day, so we can remember those who have gone before us.  I have a feeling that's what the ancients did on Samhain, too.  Martina Luther added some weight to All Saints Day (for Protestants, at least) by nailing his 'Theses' or objections to the Catholic Church on the church door where he was pastor. (Wittenburg--now in Germany).

'Wait!' you say.  What about the midpoint between Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox?  Well, all I've been able to find on this so far is that the Medieval Church called it Lammas, but I don't know what that means.  It falls on August 1.  When I lived in Colorado it was a holiday celebrating the statehood of that state.  Haven't heard of any other holidays on Aug. 1--but maybe it's because we're just too busy enjoying the fleeting days of Summer.  Perhaps in this age, we just celebrate Lammas from Midsummer all the way to Autumn.

Anyway, Spring is Coming--eventually!