Tomorrow is February 2 – Groundhog Day! But more importantly it is the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple – basically, Jesus’s and Mary’s 40 day blessing. Being the 40th day after Christmas it marks the true end of the Christmas season and, liturgically, we start looking ahead, ultimately, to Easter. We will have service in the morning and, at the end of liturgy, bless the candles in the narthex. This practice, which comes from the elder Simeon calling Jesus “a light to enlighten the Gentiles”, lends the alternate name “Candlemas” to the feast. Some thoughts:
-You will notice in church tomorrow the Christmas colors and flowers are gone, which reflects the end of the Christmas season.
-With this turn toward looking to Easter, there are traditional practices of figuring out when the weather will start changing. Groundhog Day comes from a German Candlemas tradition.
-In some Western Candlemas traditions there is a notion that bad luck will strike the house or church that leaves up Christmas decorations past February 2 (I personally believe it is prudent to leave up Christmas lights year round but that is me). Since I am writing this on the eve of Candlemas, I thought I would share a favorite poem concerning the above tradition. It is by Robert Herrick, a 17th century English Poet.
Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve
Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.