candles or punxy phil

Posted by in faith, family

i love the church calendar. in a conversation with rowan earlier today (about how long it will be cold and snowy) i remembered that this tuesday is indeed, groundhog day. in the same hour, my dad said something that reminded me that it’s also the feast of the Presentation of our Lord.

so i ran to google to see if there were certain traditions around the Feast of the Presentation and i was then reminded that it’s ALSO candlemas! (who said liturgists were boring? they’re forever having FEAST days!). so this is what i found on candlemas, the presentation of our Lord, and the strange tie-in it all has with….groundhog day.

All information was found here.


The name Candlemas comes from the activities associated with the feast….the beeswax candles in the church are to be blessed somewhere other than where the Mass is held. During the procession to the church (holding the blessed candles), the Nunc Dimittis is sung, with the antiphon “Lumen ad revelationem” (Luke 2:32). This procession into the church for Mass commemorates Christ’s entrance into the temple. Since Vatican II, the feast is reckoned a feast of the Lord (as opposed to a feast of Mary), and officially designated “The presentation of the Lord.”

Candlemas Day was also the day when some cultures predicted weather patterns. Farmers believed that the remainder of winter would be the opposite of whatever the weather was like on Candlemas Day. An old English song goes:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,
Go winter, and come not again.

Thus if the sun cast a shadow on Candlemas day, more winter was on the way; if there was no shadow, winter was thought to be ending soon. This practice led to the folklore behind “Groundhog’s Day,” which falls on Candlemas Day.


For our family’s celebration, our family dinner will include the lighting of candles, a sung Nunc Dimittus, and we’ll make a note of the weather and learn the rhyme (above) in our school lessons. I plan on buying some new candles to be used for our family feast days (birthdays, anniversaries, Sunday Dinner) for a family blessing.

I think I’d prefer celebrating the presentation of Jesus in the temple followed by a blessing of our home’s candles for the enhancement of our family meals than watching a silly ol’ groundhog find or not find his shadow.