Here in North Van, many people know February 2 as Groundhog Day - but they might not realize that forecasting weather by means of a badger, bear or woodchuck (take your pick!) came to North America with the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The old German tradition of looking at an animal’s shadow to predict the length of winter was just one way of celebrating the February 2 Feast of Candlemas.
Scripturally, Candlemas marks the occasion of Jesus being presented to the temple 40 days after his birth, as per Jewish custom.
Luke 2:22-40 tells us that the elderly prophets Simeon and Anna saw the infant Jesus in the temple and immediately recognized him as holy. Simeon gave voice to a song (the "Nunc Dimittis") in which he says he can now leave the world in peace, knowing that he has seen the one who was sent to be a light to lighten all people.
Candlemas thus became a celebration of light; a day on which all the candles to be used in the year ahead are blessed at a special service. That tradition continues to this day.
Interested in rolling your own beeswax candles? Here’s some handy info from a local seller.
La Chandeleur: Candlemas in France
“La Chandeleur” is the French word for Candlemas, which is celebrated with a variety of rich and longstanding traditions throughout France. Perhaps some of these may find their way into your home this year?
Also known as the “Day of the Crêpe,” La Chandeleur calls for indulging in delicious crêpes - both the sweet and savoury varieties. If you don’t have a favourite crêpe recipe yet, here is one to try.
La Chandeleur is known to involve the lighting of many candles inside the home - traditionally at midnight, but any time would work just fine!
A Hint of Superstition?
Want to find out if you and your family will have a prosperous year to come? While holding a coin in one hand, use your other hand to flip a crêpe in the pan during cooking. If the crêpe lands properly, then you are in luck! Accoriding to tradition, anyway…
Lighting Virtual Candles
- Article excerpted from St. Clement's Lively Spirit magazine, Candlemas Edition 2021. For more editions of Lively Spirit, click here.