February 2 in our calendar has many traditions: among them St. Blaise Day, Candlemas, and of course in the U. S., Groundhog Day! It is also a cross-quarter day…halfway between a solstice and an equinox.
Candlemas Day traditionally marked the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and of course Simeon’s beautiful song,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, *
according to thy word;
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, *
which thou hast prepared before the face of all people,
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles, *
and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Traditions of this feast include the blessing and burning of candles.
It is also the feast of St. Blaise, who, because of several miracles attributed to him during his lifetime, is associated with complaints of the throat. The prayer for his day:
Saint Blaise, pray for us that we may not suffer from illnesses of the throat and pray that all who are suffering be healed by God’s love. Amen
Groundhog Day is our U. S. transplanting of many European traditions that this midwinter’s day can predict the coming of spring, such as this rhyme:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
Of course, like many folk tales, the connection to reality is tenuous. We are six weeks from the spring equinox, come sunshine, snow, or high water!