Feast of the Presentation

Today is not only Groundhog Day but also The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, also called Candlemas.  At one time, in the Roman Church, the feast focused on the purification of Mary after the birth of her Son, but that aspect of the day has faded into the background while the Son himself is now brought forth.  Today, it is Jesus who claims the center of the scene, surrounded by both of his parents, all the people in the temple, and particularly by two prophets, one male and one female, Simeon and Anna.

For some, Candlemas is the last day of the whole Christmas season.  (Sometimes this is accidental - it just takes a long time to put away all the lights and decorations!)

To commemorate this day in church, all the candles that will be used for the year may be brought forth to be blessed, or people may bring their candles from home, or there may simply be a procession around the church with candles as a visual of the light being presented in the temple.  Yesterday's Feast of Brigid also featured light - the bonfire.  This is the true time of "bleak midwinter" - the midpoint between the solstice and the vernal equinox - and so it is hardly surprising that feasts during these days feature light.

Jesus, of course, is represented in the Gospel of John as (among other things) the light of the world, the light to whom John the Baptist testified, the light to the nations as prophesied by Isaiah.  Even the Groundhog observance is connected to light, for the groundhog cannot see his (or her) shadow if there is no sunshine.  (Our local groundhog, General Beau Lee certainly won't be seeing a shadow on this overcast and still slightly foggy day.  For all the stats on groundhog/shadow sightings around the country, click here.)

The collect for The Feast of the Presentation:

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

(BCP 239)


KeyReed said…
I did 'Prayers' at school on this very topic today and I'm glad I found all the correct information!
There is actuallly a stronger connection than most people realize between Groundhog Day and the Feast of the Presentation. I posted a blog about it last year. Apparently it originated from a Puritan anti-Catholic approach to letting people know when to plant their crops. Check it out at http://notdarkyet-commentary.blogspot.com/search/label/Ground%20Hog%20Day