Friday, February 1, 2013

Groundhog's Day and Candlemas

Our crack research staff was all set to dump all over Usual Suspect Days of the Year for calling Saturday Hedgehog Day instead of Groundhog Day, but Usual Suspect Hallmark explains that the "meteorological rodent tradition [of Groundhog's Day] began as Hedgehog Day in England. Early settlers brought the tradition across the Atlantic, but it turns out there were no hedgehogs in America, so they had to settle on the lowly groundhog."

You can amaze your friends and family tonight at your own Groundhog's Day gatherings with this fast fact: According to Usual Suspect, the first Groundhog's Day celebration at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania took place on February 2, 1887. On the other hand, according to Wikipedia, the first Groundhog's Day celebration at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania took place in 1887... or maybe 1886. OK, forget that one. But the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, though ostensibly set in Punxsutawney, was really filmed mostly in Woodstock, Illinois.

If you work your way through the Wikipedia article on Groundhog's Day you'll discover the historic linkage between this observance and Candlemas.

Candlemas is also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus, that is, the presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem 40 days after His birth (yes, it's been 40 days since Christmas already) in accordance with Jewish custom.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops complicates things further by noting that, in 1997, "Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world."

Bottom line is this, folks: Christmas is absolutely, totally, finally over. Take down the lights already.

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