February 2, 2014
the groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters
This calendar date has many names. I grew up going to church on February 2nd and having the priest, using two X-crossed candles tied with a ribbon, bless my throat. (My mother always insisted that we get our throats blessed to prevent winter coughs and colds.) It was the feat of St. Blaise. However, this tradition seemed to go away with Vatican II and the feast got re-branded as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. When I moved to Pittsburgh it became Groundhog Day using a German legend about winter predictions. Candlemas is more of an Anglican term for the feast-day, but its history also points to predicting the end of winter.
If Candlemas Day is clear and bright,
winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
winter is gone and will not come again.
- James Joyce was born on February 2, 1882.
- Phillip Seymour Hoffman died today
of a heroin overdose.
- It’s exactly halfway between the Winter Solstice
and the Spring Equinox.
- In Italy, today is considered the last cold day of winter.
- February 2, is 40 days after Christmas.
- Today is the feast of The Purification – Mary’s
ritual purification according to Mosaic Law.
- Today is the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
and Simeon’s famous canticle – Luke 2:29-32.
Now Lord you may dismiss your servant
in peace according to your word;
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have set before all the nations,
As a light of revelation to the Gentiles
and the glory of your people Israel.
from Common Compline
Traditionally the Western term Candlemas – Candle Mass – referred to the practice whereby a priest blessed beeswax candles for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home.