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How Did Candlemas Day Become Groundhog Day?



by Dale Fenwick

"When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord." Luke 2:22

When did the time come? Forty days after Jesus was born. February 2nd, according to our current calendar.

But how did the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple become Groundhog Day?

In John 8:12 Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world." It was not hard for people who lived by candlelight to make the connection. At some point in history people began bringing candles to the priests to be blessed 40 days after the celebration of the birth of Christ. The ceremony was called, "Candle Mass."

But how many candles should one bring to be blessed? You wanted enough to make it through the rest of the winter, right?

Long term weather predictions are hard enough with modern technology. Centuries ago it was primarily based upon superstitions. In Germany they used hedgehogs:

"If the hedgehog sees his shadow at Candlemas,

He will crawl back into his hole for another six weeks"

German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in North America.

Note the connection to Candlemas Day. Also note the "reverse psychology." If the sun is shining on 2/2 we will have 6 more weeks of winter.

How accurate is that groundhog anyway?

According to the Stormfax Almanac the groundhog's seasonal forecasting accuracy is somewhat low, having been correct only 39% of the time.

Dale Fenwick is the Publisher of The Apopka Voice






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