It’s Groundhog Day!

Put smiles on your faces!   Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, assuming that a rodent has the charism of prophesying the onset of the end of winter.  Here is to Groundhog Day, without a doubt the loopiest of American celebrations!


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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Punxsutawney Phil makes his false prediction not far from Pittsburgh, where here it was cold and snowy. Groundhog Day has become a smaller version of the American observance of St. Patrick’s Day, an excuse to get drunk.

    A far greater Catholic observance today is the Feast of the Presentation, known concurrently in the Extraordinary form as the Purfication of Mary and Candlemas. I know that St. John Cantius in Chicago celebrates the EF High Mass on this day, complete with the lighting and blessing of candles. As today is the 40th day after Christmas, Mary observed the Mosaic Law to be purified after her womb was opened by the birth of her firstborn son. Jesus was also presented to God the Father. Neither was obligated to observe these rituals, but they were observed.

    I found these on the St. John Cantius website:

    The Nunc Dimittis is recited today:

    Now dismiss Thy servant, O Lord,
    In peace, according to Thy word:
    For mine own eyes hath seen Thy salvation,
    Which Thou hast prepared in the sight of all the peoples,
    A light to reveal Thee to the nations
    And the glory of Thy people Israel.

    In any case, when Candlemas is finished, all feelings of Christmas give way to the penitential feelings of Septuagesima and then Lent. The English poet, Robert Herrick (A.D. 1591-1674), sums it up in his poem “Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve”—and reveals a folktale in the process:

    Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve

    Down with the rosemary, and so
    Down with the bays and misletoe ;
    Down with the holly, ivy, all,
    Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall :
    That so the superstitious find
    No one least branch there left behind :
    For look, how many leaves there be
    Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
    So many goblins you shall see.

    This very ancient carol also speaks of the departure of Christmas on this day. It is called “I Am Christmas,” and was written by James Ryman, a Franciscan Friar, ca. 1492. Note that the reference to Hallowtide (the days of the dead centering around All Saints Day) here refers to the fact that it was during Hallowtide that monarchs used to announce where they would be spending Christmas.

    I Am Christmas

    Here have I dwelled with more or lass
    From Hallowtide till Candelmas,
    And now must I from you hens pass;
    Now have good day.

    I take my leve of king and knight,
    And erl, baron, and lady bright;
    To wilderness I must me dight;
    Now have good day!

    And at the good lord of this hall
    I take my leve, and of gestes all;
    Me think I here Lent doth call;
    Now have good day!

    And at every worthy officere,
    Marshall, panter, and butlere
    I take my leve as for this yere;
    Now have good day!

    Another yere I trust I shall
    Make mery in this hall,
    If rest and peace in England fall;
    Now have good day!

    But oftentimes I have herd say
    That he is loth to part away
    That often biddeth ‘Have good day!”;
    Now have good day!

    Now fare ye well, all in fere,
    Now fare ye well for all this yere;
    Yet for my sake make ye good chere;
    Now have good day!

    Tonight we will light the candles I kept on the extra Advent wreath, say our prayers as a family, put away the Nativity set and, as Holy Church says, put away all feelings of Christmas and move on to pre – Lent (Sexagesima tomorrow, also St. Blaise Day, the blessing of throats.)

    Today is my Dad’s birthday. He died 19 years ago. He would have been 76.

  2. Here are two traditional rhymes about winter and Candlemas from Ayrshire, in Scotland, where I stay.

    If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
    The half o’ winter‘s to come and mair,
    If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
    The half of winter’s gane at Yule.

    and, more briefly,

    If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
    There’ll be twa winters in the year.

    No animal associations, however.

    Although the Reformers abolished religious feast days, Candlemas survived as one of the traditional Scottish term and quarter days, on which tenancies began and ended and rent was paid,

  3. Philip, thank you.

    As I get older…I will be 50 this year, I realize that I have lived through most of the Christmas seasons (Easter, summertime, too) that I will get to experience. As such, Candlemas has a twinge of sadness, as it is the Church who closes the book on another Christmas season (even though Christmas ended on Christmas Day for almost every American).

    As Candlemas was cold and snowy, I have little fear of snow in May – which I remember once in my life, when I was 10.

    Don’t forget to have your throats blessed today.

  4. P. Fan-
    52 years this July for me. When I was much younger I was a pro. Patroller for a N. Mich. Ski resort. A freak snow storm dropped enough snow on the hill in June of 1964 that three Natl. Ski Patrollers climbed and skied a run that day of the storm. So goes the account.

    I had my throat blessed last night at Mass.
    Take care.

  5. The groundhog legend makes more sense if you view it simply as a caution against presuming that sunny and mild weather this time of year (which would cause the groundhog to see his shadow) is out of the ordinary or that it means an early end to winter.

  6. Yesterday was Candlemas.

    February 3 is the 100th anniversary of the US Income Tax (the 16th Amendment).

    Happy Birthday IRS Form 1040!

    Early heads up: 23 December 2013 will be the 100th birthday of Fred, a.k.a., the Federal Reserve.

    Some think two of the gravest disasters in US history . . .

  7. John Henry Newman wrote a poem for Candlemas:

    The Angel-lights of Christmas morn
    Which shot across the sky,
    Away they pass at Candlemas,
    They sparkle and they die.

    Comfort of life is brief at best,
    Although it be divine;
    Like funeral lights for Christmas gone,
    Old Simeon’s tapers shine.

    And then for eight long weeks and more
    We wait in twilight gray,
    Till the tall candle sheds a beam
    On Holy Saturday.

    We wait along the penance-tide
    Of solemn fast and prayer;
    While song is hushed, and light grows dim
    In the sin-laden air.

    And while the sword in Mary’s side
    Is driven home, we hide
    In our own hearts, and count the wounds
    Of passion and of pride.

    And still, though Candlemas be spent
    And Alleluias o’er,
    Mary is music in our need
    And Jesus light in store.

  8. don’t you just love John Henry Cardinal Newman!!
    And still, though Candlemas be spent
    And Alleluias o’er,
    Mary is music in our need
    And Jesus light in store.

  9. Anzlyne, those are beautiful.

    In the Extraordinary Form calendar, the pre-Lent penitential season known on Sundays as Septuagesima, Sexagesima, etc. have begun, due to the early date of Resurrection Sunday.

    Just three days after Candlemas we are at the point of midwinter, and (usually, but not this year) The Solemnity of the Annunciation ensues a few days after the first day of Spring – almost as if Lent, being a penitential season, is also the (approximate) time of the year without the baby Jesus.

    A year or two ago, I posted a comment on a Yahoo hockey blog, run by someone with a Polish name, but by all accounts a gay marriage promoter. He made some remarks about March 25 being National Waffle Day. I pointed out what March 25 really is and he dared not argue.

  10. Penguins Fan

    “Midwinter,” the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, when the upper limb of the sun touches the tropic of Capricorn, falls on the 21st and, occasionally, on the 22nd December in the Gregorian calendar, using Universal or Greenwich Mean time.

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