This Wednesday, February 2, we'll be lighting our "Christmas Eve" votives for the last time of the season at Bonfire. It's Candlemas, aka the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord. And what does this have to do with Groundhog Day?
Well, as we all know, Punxatawney Phil forecasts the rest of the winter on February 2; that's because Wednesday is the "cross-quarter day" that sits at the midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Whether or not the temperatures or snowfall will be wintery or spring-like in the next six weeks in your part of the world, the daylight is now as long as it was on Halloween (the crossquarter day of fall). And who doesn't light brighter mornings and evenings?
In the church year the pagan customs of the crossquarter day were transformed to mark the day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, meeting Simeon, who sang that this child would be "a light to lighten the Gentiles." It's the official end of the Christmas season and the last story about Jesus as an infant (which is my excuse for still having our tree up).
In former times Candlemas was when beeswax candles for the coming year were brought to church and blessed for the year. The Poles actually had special candles blessed this day, called "gromnicy," which were specifically lit in thunderstorms as a prayer for safety.
We're a long way from thunderstorm season here in Minnesota, but maybe you'd like to set aside a candle to be lit during the storms of life.
The light shines in the darkness!