Sunday, February 2, 2014
Poem of the Week: Candlemas/Groundhog Day
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be twa (two) winters in the year.
If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter to come and mair,
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half of winter's gone at Yule.
Because, of course, February 2, Groundhog Day is, not coincidentally, Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation. It's another one of those cross quarter days, minor holidays that fall in the exact middle between solstices and equinoxes.
The others are Halloween/All Saints Day, Midsummer's Eve/Feast of the Assumption, and May Day/ Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Notice a pattern?
Yes, they are all ancient (pre-Christian) Feasts that were "baptized" and turned into Christian feasts while retaining a party element. That's interesting historically, even interesting now in the sense of, "what can we adapt from our culture to present the Gospel."
Something else I find interesting is that these cross quarter days land on when the seasons are at their peak. I know winter started December 21st, but it didn't feel like winter then (55 degrees F). It feels like winter now (8 degrees F). Late January and early February are our coldest time of the year. When the vernal equinox hits in March, it's almost certain to be cold and muddy, but May 1st is likely to be as warm and flowery. It's interesting to me that people from earliest times celebrated both the astronomical beginnings of the seasons as well as the peaks of the seasons.
Candlemas, by the way, was always the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, 40 days after Christmas, but it evolved into the day people brought their newly made candles to Mass to be blessed. Candle making was a winter occupation, and was connected to Christ as the true light, revealed in the Temple to Anna and Simeon by the light of Faith.
HT: Groundhog Day