Today is Groundhog’s Day. Depending upon whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, we will know whether six more weeks of winter await us. (In reality, we pretty get six more weeks no matter what, right?)
It’s also Candlemas Day. Falling midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, Candlemas historically was a day to bring candles to church to be blessed, drawing upon Simeon’s statement that Jesus is a “light to reveal” God to the nations. In some traditions a great bonfire was made with Christmas trees on this day, signaling the end of the Christmas season. As a sign of new beginnings, many commit to new goals on Candlemas. In some parts of the world, Candlemas is associated with the beginning of spring, so some might start working in their gardens today while others might throw themselves into some spring cleaning.
We also observe February 2 as the Feast of the Presentation, when Jesus was presented in the temple 40 days after his birth, as required by Jewish law. It was at that presentation that the aging Simeon sang his most beautiful declaration: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, your word has been fulfilled, my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people …,” the declaration we make as a post-communion hymn.So today you could be focusing on Phil’s forecast, wondering how much more winter you will see. You could be focusing on the returning light and blessing some candles. You could be welcoming spring and making new commitments. You could be joining in Simeon’s song. What will you do this day?
This reflection is adapted from the blog post, “What day is it?” written by Linda Post Bushkofsky that appeared on the Women of the ELCA blog on February 2, 2010.