Friday, February 2, 2018

Candlemas Day

Candlemas is a word I remember reading many times, but have never researched... until now. This  is a beautiful tradition that I would love to see come back into practice. Groundhog Day doesn't have to go away, but I just don't feel the same connection to that tradition. Perhaps it's due to my utter confusion as a child. I honestly thought I was being told Six More Weeks of Winter or Six Weeks Until Spring. I have always had an active imagination, but tempered with a strong practical streak. No matter how people wanted to say it --- Spring was coming in 6 weeks! Well, actually six and a half weeks, but I was taught it was bad manners to argue with my teacher over technicalities and that it had more to do with temperatures and weather than exact date. Good manners won...but it still annoys me.

Candlemas Day is celebrated on February 2nd... on what is considered the midpoint between the Winter solstice and the Spring equinox. The tradition that gives the holiday its name is that pastors would bless candles and then distribute them to people to provide light for the remander of Winter. The tie-in to what became Groundhog Day was when people began saying if Candlemas Day dawned sunny and clear, Winter weather would last several more weeks. Spring would arrive early if the weather was cloudy.

There's more, though! February 2 is also called the Feast of the Presentation. This has been celebrated since the 4th century in Jerusalem and is based on the presentation of Jesus to the Lord at the Temple at the end of Mary's 40 days of purification. All firstborn sons were to be consecrated to God. Traditionally the birth of Christ is celebrated December 25th, therefore, February 2nd would have been the date of the Presentation. 

Tie-in? At the temple, a devout and righteous man named Simeon had been anticipating the birth of the Messiah because Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the promised Savior. When he held Jesus in his arms, Simeon said, "He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of Your people Israel!” Read the whole story in Luke 2:22-40.

In John 8:12, J
esus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." That promise holds true for everyone today. The world is a dark place, but Jesus is the Light that leads to eternal life. It's not always easy to follow Him, but be assured that it is worth it.

The groundhog is fun and I am curious to see what is predicted and whether he was reliable this year. But I will celebrate the Light of the World whose promises of Hope and Healing, despite current cold and darkness, are assurances I know I can trust. More than fun, this brings JOY! Today, light a candle to remind yourself,
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

Go light the world! 🕯

*FUN FACT: February is also a traditional day for some to take down and put away their 🎄 Christmas decorations! If you haven't quite finished, today is the day! 

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