Saturday, January 20, 2018

#HappyCandlemas πŸ•―️ #HappyGroundhogDay 🐿️

Christian holy day of Candlemas commemorates the day Jesus's parents presented him to the Temple - from Bible Luke 2:22-32

or, for Catholics, the Fourth Joyful Mystery in the Rosary.

Admittedly, some of the prayers, especially thanking God for the bees who make the beeswax to make the candles, sounds like something out of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"

or possibly Shakespeare's Richard III Act 5, Scene 4  "My kingdom for a horse!"

To be multicultural, here is a French person talking about making Candlemas crΓͺpes, which seems to be solely a French tradition

Julia Child asserted that French people make stuffed crΓͺpes to recycle leftovers, so maybe a receiving a Candlemas crΓͺpe is the equivalent of getting socks for a Christmas present:

Usually Anglos eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, so this is yet another example of <<  vive la diffΓ©rence >>

I start out with the prayers for Candlemas from my Mother's Sunday Missal. I posted photos of the reference book's relevant pages and then transcribed the text below each photo.

I added corrections and explanations to the original text of books within square brackets []

I clarified the distinction between spoken prayers and directions in the text by placing the latter within curly brackets {}

I began and ended quotes from books with a line of book emojis  πŸ“šπŸ“–πŸ“•πŸ”–


From Lasance, F X, and W R. Kelly. The Sunday Missal: The Masses for Sundays and Principal Feasts, the Masses and New Liturgy for Holy Week, the Masses for the Dead with Burial Service, the Nuptial Mass and Marriage Service and the Masses and Ceremonies for the Forty Hours. New York: Benziger, 1958. Print.

Feb. 2 -- The Feast of the Purification of the B.V. [ Blessed Virgin ] Mary, or Candlemas Day


Double of the Second Class

{Should the feast of the Purification fall on Septuagesima, Sexagesima, or Quinquagesima Sunday; the festival Mass is said on the following day; but the blessing of candles and the procession take place on the Sunday itself.}

The Blessing of the Candles

The officiating priest, attended by his deacon and subdeacon, all wearing purple vestments, stands at the Epistle corner of the altar and chants the following prayers over the candles to be blessed:

P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

[ Option 1 ]

Let us pray

O Holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, Who hast created all things out of nothing, and by Thy words hast caused this liquid through the work of bees to come to the perfection of wax, and who on this day didst fulfil the petition of just Simeon; deign, we humbly beseech Thee, to bless ✠ and sanctify ✠ these candles for the uses of men, for the health of bodies and of souls, whether on the land or on the waters, by the invocation of Thy most holy name, and by the intercession of the blessed Mary ever virgin, whose festival we this day celebrate, and by the prayers of all Thy saints; and graciously, from Thy holy heaven and the seat of Thy majesty, hear the voices of this Thy people which desireth to carry these candles in their hands, unto Thy honor, and to praise Thee with singing; and be merciful to all who call upon Thee, whom Thou hast redeemed with the most precious blood of Thy Son, Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. R. Amen. 

[Option 2: This alternative prayer  might be more acceptable to Protestants because it doesn't mention Mary but still mentions Simeon]

Let us pray

Almighty, everlasting God, Who on this day didst present Thine only-begotten Son to be taken in holy Simeon's arms in Thy holy temple, we humbly beseech Thy mercy that these candles which we, Thy servants, would take in our hands for the magnifying of Thy name, to carry them lighted, Thou wilt deign bless ✠ and sanctify ✠ and to kindle with the light of Thy supernal benediction, so that by offering them to Thee, our Lord Go, we may  deserve to be presented worthily, lighted with the holy fire of Thy most dear charity, in the holy temple of Thy glory.  Through the same Christ our Lord
R. Amen.

[ Option 3]

Let us pray

O Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light, Who enlightenest every man that cometh into this world, pour forth Thy blessing upon these waxen candles and sanctify them with the light of Thy grace; and be pleased to grant that, as these lights, kindled with visible fire, dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts, being enlightened with  invisible fire, even the effulgence of the Holy Spirit, may be delivered from the blindness of every vice, that with the eye of the mind purified we may be able to discern those things which are pleasing to Thee and useful for our salvation; whereby after the dark trials of this world, we may be found worthy to enter into the light that never obscured; through Thee, Christ Jesus, Saviour of the world, Who in perfect Trinity livest and reignest, God, world without end. R. Amen.

[Option 4]

Let us pray

Almighty, eternal God, Who through Thy servant Moses didst order the purest oil to be prepared for the continual furnishing of the lamps before Thy presence [Leviticus 24:2, graciously pour upon these waxen candles the grace of Thy benediction ✠, whereby they may so serve us for outward light that, by Thy gift, the inward light of the Spirit may not be wanting to our minds.  Through Jesus Christ Thy Son, Our Lord who liveth and reigneth with Thee on the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, world without end. R. Amen.

[Option 5]

Let us pray

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who on this day appearing among men in the substance of flesh wast presented by Thy parents in the temple, and whom the venerable old man Simeon, being filled with the light of Thy Spirit, recognized, took up, and blessed, be pleased to grant that we, enlightened and taught by the grace of the same Holy Spirit, may know Thee rightly and love Thee faithfully.  Who with God the Father livest and reignest in the unity of the same Spirit, God, world without end. R. Amen.

{After these prayers the celebrant sprinkles the candles which he has blessed, with holy water, and incenses them.  First receiving one himself from the hand of one of the priests present, he distributes them among the clergy and people.  Each one receiving the blessed candle should kneel, and afterwards kiss the candle and the priest's hand.  During the distribution of the candles the choir sings the Nunc dimittis as follows:}

Antiphon.  Luke 2:32.

A light to the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.

Canticle. Luke 2:29-31

Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servants, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace.

Then is repeated the Antiphon, A light to the revelation, as above, and the same after each verse.

Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation.

Antiphon -- A light....

Which Thou hast prepared before the face of al peoples.

Antiphon -- A light....

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

Antiphon -- A light....

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Antiphon -- A light....

Antiphon. Psalm 44:26 [typo in text Psalm 43:26]

Arise, O Lord, help us, and deliver us for Thy name's sake.

Psalm 44:1 [typo in original Ps 43:2] We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have declared to us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Antiphon -- Arise, O Lord (as above).

{Returning to the altar the priest chants the following Collect:}

Let us pray

{Should it be after Septuagesima, that is, within the season of penance, there is added Flectamus genua ("Let us kneel"), and Levate ("Arise").}

Harken to Thy people, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and what Thou dost give us year after year to venerat devoutly, outwardly, grant us to follow it inwardly with the light of Thy grace.  Through Our Lord. R. Amen.

{After the deacon says: Procedamus in pace ("Let us set forth in peace"), and the choir answers, In nomine Christi. Amen ("In the name of Christ, Amen"), comes the procession in which all bear lighted candles in their hands.  The anthems appointed to be sung during the Candlemas procession are these:}


1. Deck thy bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ, thy King; embrace Mary, who is the gate of heaven; for she carries the King of glory of the new light; a virgin, she standeth bringing in her hands the Son begotten before the daystar; and receiving Him in his arms, Simeon hath declared to the nations that He is the Lord of life and death, and Saviour of the world.

Another Antiphon.  Luke 2:26-29.

Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death until he had seen the Christ of the Lord; and when they brought the child into the temple, he took Him in his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now, O Lord, dost Thou dismiss Thy servant in peace. V. When his parents brought the child Jesus into the temple, to do in His behalf according to the custom of the law, he took Him in his arms.

{While the procession re-enters the church the choir sings a responsory.}

R. They offered in His behalf a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.  As it is written in the law of the Lord [ Leviticus 12:6-8 N.B. wealthy parents were supposed to sacrifice a lamb and a dove but poor people were allowed to substitute a dove in place of the lamb] . V. After Mary's days of purification were fulfilled, according to the law of Moses [ Leviticus 12:1-5], they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to set Him before the Lord.  As it is written in the law of the Lord. V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.  As it is written in the law of the Lord.

{The celebrant now puts on white vestments.  At Mass, unless it be of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, or Quinquagesima Sunday, during the singing of the Gospel, and also from the Sanctus to the Communion, the blessed candle should be held lighted in the hand.}

{Note. In churches where a sufficient number of ministers is wanting, the ceremonies given above are carried out, if feasible, in their entirety by the celebrant alone.  In this case, according to the Memoriale Rituum, the prayers are recited.  As usage demands, however, the functions are often performed with chant.}

The Mass

Introit.   Psalm 48:9-10 [typo in original text Psalm 47:10-11]

We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple: according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth; Thy right hand is full of justice.  Psalm 48:1 [typo in original text Psalm 47:2]  Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised: in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. V. Glory.

["Sing to the Mountains" lyrics are based on Psalm 118:24; Isaiah 6:3 but it mentions the word "mountain" so I'm including it here]

Kyrie, page 67.

Gloria, page 67.


Almighty, eternal God, we humbly beseech Thy majesty that, as Thine only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so Thou mayest cause us to be presented to Thee with minds purified.  Through the same Lord.

Lesson. Malachi 3:1-4

Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I send My angel, and he shall prepare the way before My face; and presently the Lord, Whom you seek, and the angel of the testament, whom you desire shall come to His temple.  Behold He cometh, saith the Lord of hosts; and who shall be able to think of the day of His coming? and who shall stand to see Him? for He is like a refining fire, and like the fuller's herb; and He shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice.  And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years; saith the Lord almighty.

{After Septuagesima, in place of the alleluias and verse following is said or sung the Tract.}

Gradual Psalm 48:9-10 [typo in original text Psalm 47:10,11,9]

We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple: according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth. V. As we have heard so have we seen, in the city of our God, and in His holy mountain. Alleluia, alleluia. V. The old man carried the child; but the child ruled the old man. Alleluia.

Tract. Luke 2:29-32.

Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace.
V. Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation.
V. Which Thou has prepared before the face of all peoples.
V. A light to the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people, Israel.

Munda Cor Meum, page 69.

["Vide Cor Meum" altho a pretty song, is an aria based upon Dante's sonnet "La Vita Nuova"]

Gospel. Luke 2:22-32.

And when the days of her purification were fulfilled according to the Law of Moses, they took Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord -- as it is written in the Law of the Lord.  Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord -- and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.  And behold, there was in Jerusalem a man named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.  And he came by inspiration of the Spirit into the temple.  And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he also received Him into his arms and blessed God, saying, Now thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace; Because My eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light of revelation to the Gentiles, and a glory for Thy people Israel.

Offertory. Psalm 45:2  [Typo in original text Psalm 44:3]

Offertory Prayers, page 73.

Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee forever, and for ages of ages.

Creed, page 72.


Hear our prayers, O Lord, and, in Thy loving-kindness, help us so that the gifts we offer may be found worthy in the eyes of Thy majesty.  Through Our Lord.

Preface of the Nativity, page 132.

The Canon, etc, page 85.

Communion. Luke 2:26.

Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost that he should not see death until he had seen the Christ of the Lord.


O Lord our God, we beseech Thee by the intercession of blessed Mary ever virgin, make the sacred mysteries, which Thou hast given for the preservation of our spiritual life, a healing remedy for us, both for the present and for the future.  Through Our Lord.

Concluding  Prayers, page 103.

THE ETERNAL SACRIFICE "For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name clean oblation." ( Malachias, 1:11)

[ Sandra McCracken "From the Rising of the Sun" lyrics is based on Psalm 113 vs Malachi but I'm including it here]


I couldn't find a hard copy illuminated manuscript depicting Christ presentation at the temple. However, in the spirit that the Old Testament conceals what the New Testament reveals about Jesus, "The Visconti Hours" includes illustrations of both Hannah and her son, Samuel, being dedicated to God, which Christians could interpret as a foreshadowing of Mary and Jesus dedication to Yahweh.

From Meiss, Millard, and Edith W. Kirsch. The Visconti Hours: National Library, Florence. New York: George Braziller, 1972. Print.

 LF 163. Hannah Blessed by Eli (Hours of the Cross, None)

The priest Eli blesses Hannah and prays that the God of Israel will grant her a son [ 1 Samuel 1:17  typo in text 1 Kings 1:17].  Cool periwinkle blue lighted by yellow in Hannah's gown contrasts with the stronger hues of the priest's vestments.  Two saints in the wings of the triptych on the green marble altar behind the figures venerate a third image.  Obscured by the priest, in its central.  The Visconti motto remains only partially legible on scrolls which compose the initial.

The dove in the upper border is not simply a Visconti emblem. A halo identifies it as the Holy Spirit, whose presence in the context of the blessing of Hannah constitutes an appropriate allusion to the conception of Christ.  Its counterpart in the lower margin is the Lamb of the Apocalypse, the resurrected Christ who alone was worthy to open the book with seven seals.  Both Lamb and book have lost part of their pigment.  Seraphim alternating with gold clouds glazed in red complete the array of celestial symbols.

LF 164v.  Presentation of Samuel in the Temple (Hours of the Cross, Vespers)

Hannah fulfills her vow to dedicate her son to the Lord [ 1 Samuel 1:28 typo in text 1 Kings 1:28].  With only slight modifications -- most notably the introduction of the child on the altar -- the composition of this miniature is a replica of its predecessor.  The space of the second painting, however, is more compressed, its colors less luminous, and its broad-faced, thick-necked figures more sharply modeled and less elegant than their counterparts on LF 163.  These differences probably disclose the intervention of an assistant in the second miniature.

Although Visconti armorials are lacking, the folio is rich in gold, which is hatched with black in the foliate initial and adorned by arabesques of multicolored leaves and flowers in the borders.


CASAMENTO, Father ANTHONY . “The Presentation of the Lord.” Cradio, 2 Feb. 2017, article includes a copy of Far Bartolomeo 1516 painting “Scene with Christ in the Temple”

I believe the elderly couple in the lower left corner are Simeon and Anna, mentioned in Clovis G. Chappell’s 1936 Christmas sermon:

"But there were those in that distant day who did recognize him, though they saw him disguised as a little child.  The sainted Symeon was of this elect group.  How did he manage it? Luke lets us into the secret when he tells that Symeon was 'on the outlook for the Consolation of Israel'"  [ Luke 2:25 ]


Unsurprisingly, secular reference books choose to emphasize the alleged pagan inspiration of  Candlemas.


From Childcraft: The How and Why Library. Vol 9: "Holidays and Birthdays" Chicago: World Book-Childcraft International, 1982. articles on Candlemas and Groundhog Day

Candles and weather

Candlemas Day

February 2

Candlemas Day is a special day when church candles are blessed.  At one time, the people then carried lighted candles around the church.  This custom goes back to the Romans, when people paraded with lighted candles at this time of year.

The Roman custom comes from a story in both Greek and Roman [pagan] mythology.  In the story told by the Greeks, Demeter, the goddess of farming, had a beautiful daughter names Persephone.  Hades, god of the Underworld, fell in love with Persephone and carried her off.  With lighted candle, Demeter roamed the world in search of her daughter.

While Persephone was with Hades, all the world turned cold and barren.  Nothing would grow.  Finally, Zeus, the king of the gods, arranged for Persephone to return to her mother for part of the year.  Persephone's return was a sign of spring.  The Greeks and Romans used this myth to explain the seasons.  You can read about Persephone in Volume 2, Stories and Fables.

People in many countries have long thought of Candlemas Day in terms of the coming of spring.  An old British rhyme tells of this hope for a change in the weather:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,Winter will have another flight;But if it is dark with clouds and rain,Winter is gone and will not come again.

The fact that Candlemas is allegedly connected to weather forecasting explains why February 2 morphed into Groundhog Day


Four-footed forecaster

Ground-Hog Day

February 2

Do you think that a small, furry animal can tell what the weather is going to be like? Some people in the United States think that the ground hog, or woodchuck, can.

On February 2. these people watch to see what the ground hog will do when it comes out of its snug, underground den.  They think that if the ground hog is frightened by its shadow, it will crawl back into its den.  If it does, there will be six more weeks of winter.  But if the ground hog does not see its shadow, spring weather will come soon.

The superstition that on February 2 an animal can forecast the weather goes back hundreds of years.  Long ago, farmers in Germany watched to see what badgers would do on this date.  They thought that if the badger saw its shadow and crawled back into its hole to go to sleep, there would be six more weeks of cold weather.  It this happened, the farmers would be late with spring planting and have poor crops.

Naturally, everyone hoped that February 2 would be dark and cloudy so the badger would not see his shadow.  Then the farmers could get ready for spring planting and look forward to a good crop.

German farmers who came to the United States brought this superstition with them.  These farmers first settled in the East, where there are no badgers.  But they soon discovered that the ground hog is much like the badger.  So they took to watching the ground hog on February 2.  And that is how the superstition about the ground hog and its shadow got started in the United States.

Is the ground hog always right?  You can find out for yourself.  Next February 2, note in your diary if the say is clear or cloudy.  Then keep careful track of the weather during the next six weeks.


I've never heard of the alleged pagan inspiration for Candlemas Day. A description of various Greek pagan myths and festivals can be found in Macdonald, Fiona, and Mike S. Foster. The Traveler's Guide to Ancient Greece. New York: Scholastic Inc, 1998. 

The festival related to Demeter was called Thesmophria. The rituals associated with this Greek festival seem to bear no relation to Candlemas whatsoever.  I suspect the people comparing pagan Greek rituals to a Christian ceremony want to demote Christianity to an irrelevant antiquated myth.



The Athenians organize more than 40 festivals to honor their gods and goddesses.  Most are hekd outside in spring and summer. Athenian festivals are celebrated in many different ways with prayers, sacrifices, processions, music and drama, and athletic games.

All the festivals are ancient but they have many different origins. Some are rituals left over from when Athens was ruled by kings.  Others are designed to increase citizens' sense of patriotism and pride. Some mark important stages in people's lives, such as getting married, and others are farming festivals in which the season's crops are blessed [Thesmophria seems to be of the final category].

The Thesmophoria festival is held in Athens every fall. Preparation for this event begins in the spring. Its purpose is to thank Demeter, the goddess of fertility, for sending food, crops, and healthy children -- and to ask her to send more in the future.  The details of what happens at this festival are kept secret from the men -- it is a strictly women-only event!


In spring, women throw piglets and cakes shaped like snakes into holy hollows in the ground as offerings to the goddess Demeter.


The Thesmophoria festival takes place on open ground just to the south of the Pnyx Hill, where the citizens' Assembly meets. The women gather here on the first day of the festival and set up camp.

Digging up

In fall, at the start of the Thesmophoria festival, the women dig up the offerings they made in spring.  The offerings are rotten and very smelly by now!

The altar

The women carry the smelly remains and place them on  Demeter's altar.  They ask the goddess to bless them and make the crops grow in the fields.

Sowing seeds

Later, the rotten remains [which sounds similar to ancient Greek compost] are mixed with seeds of grain and scattered on the fields.

Day of fasting

On the second day of the festival, women eat no solid food and sit on the ground.  By performing this ritual, the women believe they are conserving their own energy and transferring their strength to the crops.

Ritual shouting

On the second night of the festival, the women gather together in the camp and shout insults at one another.  This is completely opposite to their normal behavior -- a sign that this is a special, holy time.


Kate Rusby - Sweet Bells - 07- "Candlemass Eve" lyrics

Fr. Scott Winchel compares and contrasts the celebration of Candlemas vs Ground hog Day 

It seems leftists who wrote the "Childcraft" series reverse engineered a pagan inspiration for a Christian holiday in an attempt to discredit Christians as a bunch of mind numbed robot copy cats. 

As the video from Wakefield Cathedral explains, the timing for Candlemas is based on Levitical law starting from the birth of Jesus: 

The tradition of 25 December as the date of Jesus's birth is not based on Saturnalia or any other pagan holiday, either

Or, in case tweet breaks, from Erickson, Erick. “ERICKSON: Why December Twenty-Fifth?” Daily Wire, The Daily Wire, 2 Dec. 2017,

"With the very earliest Church fathers settling on March 25th as Christ's death and believing fully that Christ's death would occur on the anniversary of his conception, the early church reinforced its belief well before there is any written accusation or evidence of the church incorporating Saturnalia or Sol Invictus into its celebrations"
It seems completely improbable, as the authors of the "Childcraft" series contend, that a Christian holiday celebrated in midwinter was based on the pagan holiday for Demeter, Thesmophoria, celebrated during Spring planting season and which encompassed completely different rituals, customs, and beliefs.

Since Jesus was raised Jewish, and candles are typically used at night, it seems appropriate to include the Jewish Evening Prayer "Hashkiveinu" Adar, R. (2017, May 21). Hashkiveinu – The Jewish Lullaby. Retrieved January 22, 2018, from

And since the Temple to which Jesus was presented was located in Jerusalem, Israel it seems vaguely appropriate to include the hymn based on the William Blake poem, even though he aspired to

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land

To be further ecumenical, I choose a Protestant song for the penultimate hymn "Abide with me":

Finally, it seems appropriate to conclude the celebration of Candlemas with the hymn by Jean Anthony Grief  "We Are the Light of the World" based on the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-16

Blessed are they who show others mercy,
Dm7         Am7          Dm7     Am7
They will know mercy too.
Dm7         Am7          Dm7     Am7
Bless us, O Lord, hear our cry for mercy;
Dm7           Am7        Dm7     C
Bless us, O Lord, our God.
F          C            F
We are the light of the world,
F       Dm7                A
May our light shine before all,
F             C       F            Dm           A        Dm  Am Dm Am
That they may see the good that we do, and give glory to God.


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