candles2.jpg (24485 bytes) Candlemas or Groundhog Day


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If Candlemas day be sunny and bright,

Winter again will show its might.

If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey,

Winter soon will pass away.

Candlemas, or February 2nd marks the halfway point between The Winter Solstice and The Spring Equinox. Although there were ancient Pagan festivals of light held at this time of year, Candlemas it’s self is of Christian origin and strangely enough, Candlemas has two distinctly different points of origin.


According to the gospel, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple, the traditional forty days after his birth to complete Mary’s purification after childbirth and to perform the “Redemption of the Firstborn,” in accordance to the “Law of Moses.”  This was also the time when churches purchased their annual supply of candles and blessed them at a special service or mass.


There was a time when small honey soaked cakes were also taken to the church to be blessed and then given to children as good luck tokens.  This stems from a far older ancient Roman tradition of offering cake to the gods to entice them to hasten the return of good weather.


So, how did Punxsutawney Phil come into the picture?  It had long been a tradition in Europe and Great Britain that if it was sunny and bright on Candlemas Day there would be six more weeks of winter, but if it was cloudy, spring was just around the corner.  In Germany it was believed that if when hibernating animals emerged from their dens, they saw their shadows, they would go back to sleep indicating that winter would be around for another six weeks.  hen German immigrants, known as Pennsylvania Dutch immigrated to America they brought their traditions with them and transferred the job of weatherman to the groundhog. ground-hog-day

Whether Phil sees his shadow on February 2nd or not, you may enjoy whipping up a batch of Candlemas Cakes.




        Copyright © 2008 - Geraldine Duncann

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