In honor of Groundhog Day I went outside and saw my own shadow…and it was shivering so I went back inside. This told me that it is still winter! I’m sure that’s what the poor marmot in Pennsylvania was thinking when those silly Punxsutawnians took him out of his home and held him in the light of a freezing day.
We have some strange and weird commemorative days in our calendar and I just had to look this one up. The 2nd of February was once (and I’m sure still is) a Christian holiday traditionally known as Candlemas. It is also known as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord.
According to the gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth to complete Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn, in obedience to the Law of Moses. When they got to the temple the Gospel also records that they encountered Simeon who had been promised by the holy spirit that “he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”
So once upon a time 40 days after Christmas Simeon saw the baby Jesus and today 2 thousand and some odd years later a groundhog sees his shadow and then Spring comes!…eventually…like it always does.
Really the whole thing was about the celebration of light and it’s return. The days are getting longer and that’s always a good thing especially in times when electricity hadn’t been encountered yet. And metaphorically speaking Jesus is also known as the “light of the world” and his birth is often viewed as the shedding of light upon the human soul and condition. So let’s celebrate!
I have no idea why all of these religious icons and ideas have all been replaced by cute animals, parties and jolly old elves etc…but isn’t it curious that many pagan celebrations and festivals which began with the worship of earthly places and deities in the pre-Christian era morphed into religious holidays and the celebration of personal icons during the advent of Christianity and now thousands of years later have morphed again into celebrations of cartoon-like characters, who seemingly have nothing to teach us except that we should have a party and buy things.
Speaking of which, we now celebrate the Superbowl at this same time of year, a truly pagan festival which commemorates the end of the barbaric football season and the thankful return of the light of baseball, a truly civilized sport of Spring, warm weather and safely returning home.
So…Happy Imbolc, Candlemas, Groundhog Day and Superbowl Sunday!
Some things just never change…even though they always do.