OK. So we are an “open” community. If I’m not mistaken, I think this means that even Christians can find voice on the pages of our major newspaper.

So here goes: Go to your computer and Google (or Yahoo) the word “Candlemas” and see what comes up: a delightful, “lost” Christian feast, occurring on Feb. 2 , right when we need a feast most – halfway between the shortest day of the year and the spring equinox.

One of the interesting features about it is that it is one of those feasts that were “stolen” from the northern European pagans, and then Christianized into a feast called “The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple,” nicknamed Candlemas because candles were blessed at a Mass recognizing Jesus as “the Light of the World.”

Wow – nice ideas!

So this new meaning kept the feast from being lost. And as with all rich feasts – like that of Christmas – it has many layers. Plug into whatever layer suits you.

In its Christianized version, it happens to fall 40 days after Christmas, the day when a new mother in ancient Israel was required to be “purified” and to present her child to the Lord. (Read the account in Luke 2:22-39.)

In this lovely episode there are two “elderly” people there in the temple as Jesus is brought in by Mary and Joseph, and they take the child Jesus in their arms and rejoice.

They remind me of grandparents who take their new grandchildren in their arms for the first time.

To me this is a very, very spiritual moment for grandparents. And if for no other reason, this layer of the feast should be preserved and celebrated in honor of all the new grandparents this year.

If you cannot guess what grandparents are spiritually thinking at this important moment, read the prayer of Simeon in the above cited text: “Now you can dismiss your servant O Lord my eyes have seen your salvation.”

My own father did not live to actually see his first grandchild but he did know of his birth, and even that cheered him up when he was dying.

Now, because parts of this country were at first settled by English nonconformists, who didn’t like anything “high church,” they/we changed this feast back into one of its pagan forms and call it Groundhog Day.

I leave it to you.

But as for me, I look forward to “Candlemas.”


– Special to the Telegram