The Corner

Happy Candlemas!

So, why do we watch a giant squirrel predict the weather on February 2? Because it’s 40 days after Christmas, and thus the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple (or Candlemas). Simeon said Jesus was “a light to lighten the Gentiles,” so candles are blessed (in Armenia they light bonfires). Farmers would look to see if it was light or cloudy, figuring the rest of winter would be the opposite; Germans used rodents for that purpose, bringing the idea with them when they moved to Pennsylvania — hence, Punxsutawney Phil.

It’s another example of a church feast that’s turned into a completely secular observance (like Halloween and Valentine’s Day and . . . Christmas?).

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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