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GROUNDHOG DAY OR CANDLEMAS?

posted Jan 25, 2017, 11:21 AM by Church Office
On February 2nd a quaint tradition unfolds.  The fate of Spring hangs in the balance as a burrowing animal looks for its shadow.  But where did this tradition come from?  For centuries February 2nd has been a Christian Feast Day.  It is the Feast of the Presentation, honoring the day that Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple.  The date of Candlemas is always February 2nd because it is exactly 40 days after the Feast of the Nativity on December 25th.  Incidentally this date is also halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox so this date has always been significant.  Candlemas became linked to weather predictions about the end of winter/arrival of spring because of an old English poem:  “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come winter, have another flight.  If Candlemas bring clouds and rain, Go winter, and come not again.”  The Groundhog Day shadow/no shadow idea simply follows the pattern of the song:  “Fair and bright” = sun = shadow = more winter; “Clouds and rain” = no shadow + spring arriving soon. The name Candlemas refers to the traditional processions and blessing of candles that came to characterize the feast day.
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