Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Candlemas/Groundhog Day

Tonight is Candlemas Eve, with tomorrow (February 2) being Candlemas. Candlemas is a Christian feast day celebrating the presentation of baby Jesus at the temple. The day gets it's name from the fact that candles used in the church throughout the rest of the year were blessed by having a mass said over them, thus "candle mass" became Candlemas.

Because most practitioners of hoodoo were Baptist, Candlemas is better known and celebrated as Groundhog Day. Whether your celebrate it as Candlemas or Groundhog Day makes no difference as much of the same lore for the holiday has survived. The lore in question revolves around the remaining winter weather.

Candlemas marks the time of midwinter, the half-way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is widely believed that the weather on Candlemas/Groundhog Day can predict what the rest of the Winter will be like. Basically, it's the opposite of what you would expect. If February 2 is a gorgeous day with much sunshine and warm temperatures then the remaining winter weather will be severe. If the day is cold, windy and gray, then we are likely to experience an early Spring and be blessed with warm, wonderful weather.

So how did the groundhog get caught up in this? Well, the lore about an animal predicting the remaining winter weather is a German custom. Germans used to believe that badgers can predict the remaining winter weather. German immigrants to the U.S. chose a groundhog as a replacement for the badger. So if a groundhog sees it's shadow and is frightened then there will be 6 more weeks of bad weather. If he does not see his shadow then warm weather is in store. This mirrors the whole "reverse" thing as the only way that the groundhog can see his shadow is if the sun is shining.

There are other superstitions relating to Candlemas that people may not be aware of. First, it is considered unlucky to bring the flower called Snowdrops into the home before Candlemas, as Candlemas is viewed as the unofficial start of Spring. Second, if a lit candle in a church begins to form wax "tears" then the candle is weeping because a member will die before the year is out.

Another interesting bit of superstition is that people believed candles lit on Candlemas Eve would frighten evil spirits away and promote good luck for the rest of the year.

The Polish also honored Mary during this time. According to legend, the Blessed Mother had a magic candle called "the thunder candle" that she used to frighten away wolves and to protect people during Candlemas.

Wiccans and Neopagans call this holiday Imbolk, a day that was sacred to the Celtic goddess Brigid. The Pagans also held much weather-related superstition on this day as well.

Finally, Candlemas is the official end to the Christmas season. Any decorations that have been left up must be now taken down.

Since February gets its name from the Latin "Februarius", meaning "to purify", then this is a good time to perform cleansings/uncrossings of the home and self. It's also a good time for candle magic in general.

Wishing All My Readers A Wonderful Candlemas/Groundhog Day And May Fair Weather Abound!

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