Today is Groundhog day and so much more!
It is also Candlemas. Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph take the infant to the Temple for blessing, as was Jewish custom. Celebrated since the 4th century as the Presentation of Jesus, it marks the time when old Simeon and Anna recognize something in the Child and announce him as “the Light.”
From this meeting with the Child, who is the Light, came Candlemas, a candle-light festival marking by the blessing of candles and, in the Middle ages, glorious processions with lights.
In the Middle Ages the farmers believed weather could be forecast based on the conditions on Candlemas Day.
Here is a snippet of medieval poetry:
When it storms and snows on Candlemas Day
Spring is not far away;
If its bright and clear,
Spring is not yet here.
You see the connection with forecasting groundhogs?
But, there’s more.
Yesterday, was the feast day of St. Brigid, a favourite Irish saint. But layered into the mythology of this Christian saint is the ancient Celtic holiday of Imbolc, a festival marking the midway point between the winter and spring solstice.
The word Imbolc literally means “in the belly” and refers to the pregnancy of ewes. It is also the time of the thawing of ice and snow (well, perhaps in Ireland!) It marks the emergence of hibernating animals to see if the cold has ended.
And that brings us back to Groundhog day. And while we wait their verdict on the nearness of spring,
We may want to create a pause today to bless a candle, and enjoy its light.
We might want to read the story of the Presentation in the Temple Luke 2:22-40 (Contemporary English Version)
We might want to remember St. Brigid and draw on her for creative inspiration.