Originally posted Feb. 2, 2013, at 2pennyblog. Republished with permission of the author.
Forty days after Christmas, on Feb. 2, Christians recall the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. In a number of Christian denominations the season of Epiphany comes to an end. According to scripture, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem 40 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 (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12-15).
As Mary and Joseph were poor, Mary was relieved of offering a lamb and a dove for her offering. Instead, she was to “take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf, and she shall be clean” (Leviticus 12:8).
Around the globe, Christians will likely remember these early events as reported in Luke 2:22-40. In fact, it is one of the most ancient feasts of the Christian church. With the traditional end of Epiphany, many remove any remaining Christmas greenery from their homes. If you are visiting the Taizé Community in France, you will likely see a cage with two doves or pigeons in their Church of Reconciliation. After the service, the birds are released. As the story reflected the light of Christ breaking into the world, it remains a common practice at this service to bless candles for use during the year. To this day, some countries share special meals during family celebrations (i.e., crepes in France or tamales in Mexico).
Pennsylvania Dutch folklore attached an ancient, pagan European practice of weather prognostication to this day. If the groundhog sees its shadow, superstition indicates winter weather will continue for six more weeks. (In ancient Europe, one might have heard of a badger or sacred bear serving this purpose.) Yet, such beliefs weren’t only held in Germanic nations. In England, one old English poem exclaims:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
No matter the weather, I hope you and your family will develop your own ways of recalling the Presentation of Jesus. It reminds us of the Holy Family’s piety, and our family’s call as well. It displays a family united by love, as our own should be. The feast most importantly can remind us of how that young male child redeemed on that day came to redeem us through his cross and resurrection. We really should celebrate!
Find a link to Lou Florio’s entry on the blog 2pennyblog at Lutheran Blogs.