Before there was Groundhog Day, there was Candlemas. Happy Candlemas!
Candlemas, which is officially the last day of the Christmas season and one of the oldest feasts of the Catholic Church, has been celebrated by Christians in Jerusalem since the 4th century AD.
If your tree is still up, now would probably be a good time to take them down.
Candlemas is itself a celebration of two main events:
- The purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- The presentation of the child Jesus in the temple.
The so-called “Groundhog Day” is nothing more than a blatant Protestant attack on Candlemas, and by extension, the entire Catholic Faith.
Groundhog Day is traced back to German/Lutheran folklore and is really the appropriation of Badger Day, a German holiday which was itself an appropriation of the Catholic holiday of Candlemas.
Thanks A LOT, Luther(!)
Candlemas occurs 40 days after Christmas and in obedience to Mosaic law, which requires male children to be presented at the temple 40 days after birth, the Blessed Virgin Mary presented the child Jesus at the temple, 40 days after his birth.
This Mosaic law requirement was to offer thanks to God for the safe delivery of the child, to offer thanks to God for protecting the newborn during the crucial 1st 40 days of life, to pray for the child’s continued health and to also pray for the purification of the mother.
In our New Testament times, we no longer have the rite of postpartum purification of the mother.
This custom has been replaced by the “Churching of Women” rite.
The differences between Old Testament Purification of the Mother rite and our New Testament Churching of Women rite are:
- Since Christ’s arrival, all children today, boys and girls, are to be presented in the church at 40 days after birth. They are to be presented for baptism and chrismation and so made ready for holy communion.
- As this postpartum period is a critical time for mother and child, the Church appoints prayer to be said over the mother in the Churching of Women rite.
Churching of Women rite is an old custom in the Catholic Church which, like the Catholic rite of betrothal, is now making a comeback, thanks to renewed interest in traditional Catholicism.
I will write an article in the near future, focusing on the Churching of Women.
Snowdrops are flowers associated with Candlemas as they are one of the first flowers to blossom, signifying the arrival of Spring.
Another reason why they are associated with Candlemas is thanks to their pure white petals, commemorative of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s purification on this day.
Many Christians see the flower as a symbol of Jesus Christ being this hope for the world. Candles that are lit during Candlemas also symbolize Jesus as the “light of the world”.
As a result, snowdrops have come to symbolise consolation, hope and purity.
Other names for snowdrops are Snow Piercer, Mary’s Taper and Candlemas Bells.
Candlemas is indeed a very special day for me as it not only commemorates the presentation of the child Jesus at the Temple, but it also commemorates the Virgin Mary’s purification, and it acts as a reminder that Spring is on the way. And with Spring on the way, my birthday, which falls on March 17th – St Patrick’s Day, is not too far off either! And yes, one of my middle names is Patricia.
A final reason why Candlemas is so very special to me is that this day, February 2nd, is my dear mother’s birthday……and she is also named Mary.
Wishing you all a very blessed Candlemas.
Mary, ever virgin, hear our prayers.
Mary, Mother most pure, pray for us!
ad Jesum per Mariam