I don’t know why I love Groundhog’s Day so much. I guess it’s just the silly fun of it. Maybe it is the midwinter longing for a little spring weather. My love might also have something to do with a rotund critter who visited our backyard for many summers of my childhood. We named him “Chubbs.” Whatever the reason, I was excited to celebrate with my boys on February 2nd.
I borrowed the idea for these cupcakes from Gourmet Mom on-the-Go, but I decided to go with cupcakes instead of cookies. I love cupcakes. They just seem more festive. That being said, if you visit the link above, you must look at the groundhog hot chocolate. Too cute! We enjoyed our cupcakes when Daddy got home from teaching around 3pm. We had a little tea time celebration with cupcakes and decaf tea. Earlier in the day, we worked on our new winter playscape. More about that in a future blog post!
In the evening, we celebrated Candlemas for the first time. What fun to embrace a new tradition. For weeks, I’ve been reading about Candlemas, researching its history, customs, and potential for creating a meaningful teaching moment for our family. The internet is full of sources about this rather obscure little holiday, but here is the quickie version. Candlemas marks the end of the 40 day period after the birth of Jesus. According to Jewish custom, Mary would have gone to the Temple for purification (40 days postpartum for a boy baby, 80 days for a girl). This would have been the day of Christ’s first visit to the Temple, His Father’s house. The event is recorded in Luke 2:22-40. While I consider myself pretty familiar with the Bible, I didn’t remember so many of the wonderful little moments in this story. A figure named Simeon had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Christ. Upon seeing young Jesus in the Temple, Simeon acknowledges that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. He gives thanks to God that he may now rest in peace. Also, an elderly prophetess named Anna acknowledges and blesses the baby. Such a beautiful moment in the early life of Jesus!
I drew and laminated some simple figures for the boys to use in acting out the story. We even enjoyed a spirited rendition of the story by Daddy at the dinner table!
From my quick research I learned about several interesting Candlemas traditions. Because the date also marks the center point between with first day of winter and the first day of spring, people eat round foods to remember the sun. When the holiday is given its Christian identity, the acknowledgement of the sun also becomes the acknowledgement of the Son of God, the light of the world. And while some people might be uncomfortable with the potential pagan roots of Candlemas (the Gaelic festival Imbolc), I find the parallel to be a wonderful statement about the way God shows up in creation and how He designed the world to reflect the presence of Jesus in all things. We ate our round foods (cheeseburgers; sliced potatoes baked with olive oil, salt & pepper; carrots in “coin” shape; and orange slices) with candles on the table and talked about Jesus as the Light. Other traditions include bringing candles to church for a priest to bless them and watching the weather for a prediction of spring’s arrival (“If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, / winter will have another bite. / If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, / winter is gone and will not come again.“). Not hard to see the Groundhog’s Day connection!
It was a special evening, and I hope our family embraces this new-to-us holiday for many years. It proved to be a great teaching tool and a sacred moment in the middle of a regular old week.