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 Feasts of the Season Winter 2018
Presentation of the Lord February 2 February 2 is a day with three names—the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, and
Groundhog Day.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, Jewish law required that the firstborn son of a family be consecrated, or dedicated, to God. The child was presented for the consecration at the Temple in Jerusalem. The feast of the Presentation of the Lord commemorates the consecration of Jesus to the service of God.
An old man named Simeon, who lived at the Temple, had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah for whom Israel was waiting. At the time of Jesus’ presentation, it was revealed to Simeon that Jesus was the Messiah. With the child in his arms, Simeon said a prayer called the Nunc Dimittis (its first words mean “now dismiss” in Latin). The prayer begins, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.” Simeon is asking God to let him die now that he has held in his arms the salvation of Israel and the Light to the Gentiles. At the same time, a holy woman named Anna, who also lived at the Temple, announced to people that Jesus was the one who would redeem the Jewish people. This must have been quite a day for Mary and Joseph. You can read the story in Luke 2:22–38.
On this feast day, churches also bless candles that will be used for the coming year, perhaps because of the reference to light in Simeon’s prayer. Because of this tradition, February 2 is also known as Candlemas Day. The custom has been for people to process through the church holding the newly blessed candles as a commemoration of the first entrance of Jesus, the Light of the World and the Light to the Gentiles, into the Temple.
February 2 is also known as Groundhog Day, the day on which we’re supposed to be able to predict the length of winter by whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow. The groundhog seems to be a recent addition because there is an ancient rhyme about Candlemas Day that makes no mention of the fuzzy animal (right). How the groundhog and his shadow became a part of the forecast, no one knows for sure.
A Service of
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