Saturday, February 4, 2017

Candlemas Notes Part 2

As you may have guessed, the service of Candlemas is one of my favorites.  Here is another set of notes of my husband's on this subject: (Click on the apparently vacant squares to see the pictures they contain in his notes.)



One of the earliest references to predicting the weather on this day can be found in an old English song: “If Candlemas be fair and bright / Come, Winter, have another flight / If Candlemas brings clouds and rain / Go Winter, and come not again.”   

Astronomy 161: An Introduction to Solar System Astronomy, Prof. Richard Pogge
Solstice & Equinox Holidays These days are associated with many familiar holidays whose astronomical roots have been largely forgotten. 
  • Winter Solstice: Christmas, Yuletide, Saturnalia
  • Vernal Equinox: Easter, Passover, Eoestre (Saxon)
  • Summer Solstice: Midsummer (viz. A Midsummer Night's Dream), St. John's Eve
  • Autumnal Equinox: Mabon (Celtic/Welsh), Michaelmas (Feast of St. Michael the Archangel)
Cross-Quarter Holidays:
  • First Cross-Quarter Day (Feb 4): Imbolc (Celtic: "in milk"), St. Brigit's Day, Candelmas, Groundhog Day, Setsubun (Japan)
  • Second Cross-Quarter Day (May 5): Beltane (Celtic: "fire of Bel", coming of summer), May Day, Walpurgisnacht, Feast of the Conception of Mary
  • Third Cross-Quarter Day (Aug 7): Lughnasa (Celtic: "games of Lugh"), Lammas (loaf mass), Lughnasadh (Celtic: "games of Lugh"), Feasts of St. Oswald and St. Justus of Lyon.
  • Fourth Cross-Quarter Day (Nov 7): Samhain (Celtic: "summer's end"), Halloween, Feast of All Saints, Feast of All Souls. (Note: Halloween preceeds All Saints in the same way Walpurgis Night preceeds May Day in the Spring).
Candlemas originally fell on 2 February, the day of the feast of the Purification, or the Presentation of Christ. This was celebrated in pre-Reformation times by candlelit processions. The tradition was started in the 5th century during the Roman celebration of Februa, and carried over into Scotland, where mothers of children born the previous year would march with candles, hoping to be purified by the Virgin Mary[1]
Whitsun was originally the feast of Pentecost, around which a great many christenings would occur, so it became associated with the colour white. Because the date of Pentecost moves each year, the legal Term Day of Whitsun was fixed in Scotland as 26 May in the Julian Calendar, which became 15 May under the Gregorian Calendar, adopted in Scotland in 1599.[2]
Lammas was celebrated on 1 August, the day the first fruits of the harvest were offered, the name coming from the Anglo-Saxon for 'loaf-mass' or 'bread-feast'.
Martinmas, on 11 November, was originally the feast of Saint Martin of Tours, a 4th-century bishop and hermit.
In Scotland, 1886 saw the term dates for removals and the hiring of servants in towns changed to 28 February, 28 May, 28 August and 28 November. The original dates are now referred to as Old Scottish Term Days. The dates were regularised by the Term and Quarter Days (Scotland) Act 1990.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quarter Days

For societies located in the temperate latitudes, the turning of the seasons provide a natural division of the year into quarters. In Britain, the Quarter Days, used at least since the Middle Ages, mark these four major parts of the year.

The four Quarter Days in southern England, Wales and Ireland are:
Lady Day - March 25, Feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, the traditional day for hiring farm workers for the coming year
Midsummer - June 24, Feast of St John the Baptist, the midpoint of the growing season
Michaelmas - September 29, Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, start of the harvest
Christmas - December 25, Feast of the Birth of Jesus, high point of the year, when farm workers were paid for the year's labor

The Quarter Days originally referred to the agricultural cycle. But because they're easy to remember, they became the markers for other events and obligations. Servants were traditionally hired and paid on these dates. Rents were due then, giving rise to their other name of Gale (or Rent) Days. In England, leasehold payments and business premises rents are still often due on the Quarter Days. Since the dates were already associated with debts, other debts were usually also paid then, too.

The Quarter Days were also used for legal matters. At those times, justices of the peace discharged their responsibilities for dealing with taxes and the care of roads, and could order the constables to pay the amount of money owed the poor.

School terms remain loosely linked with the Quarter Days. For example, Michaelmas term at Cambridge runs from October through December, the Lent term from January to March, and the Easter term from April to June.

In the northern part of England and in Scotland, the four Quarter Days (also called Old Scottish Term Days in Scotland) are:
Candlemas - February 2, Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary
Whitsunday - May 15, Feast of the Holy Spirit
Lammas - August 1, Feast of St Peter’s Deliverance from Prison
Martinmas - November 11, Feast of St Martin the Bishop

Note that the days are different for England and Scotland. Both mark the start of the seasons, but according to different calendars. The English Quarter Days roughly align with the astronomical seasons, while the Scottish Quarter Days mark (more or less) the start of the seasons according to the Celtic calendar. These Scottish days correspond more closely, but not exactly, to the cross-quarter days, or mid-season days, of the English calendar.

More on the cross-quarter days next time. 
Thank you all,
Linda Banche

Jesus and the Pidyon HaBen Ceremony
The narrative in Luke chapter 2 indicates that Mary and Yosef went up to Jerusalem for pidyon haBen ceremony of Yeshua (this was not His brit milah (circumcision), see Luke 2:21) and remained there ten days until it was time for Mary’s purification (40 days after the birth of a son, as described in Leviticus 12:1-8).
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner:  This week's parsha, Tazria, begins with the laws of a woman who gave birth. Upon giving birth to a male, a woman is t'mayah {ritually impure} for a seven-day period. If she gave birth to a female, her period of impurity extends for fourteen days. The possukim {verses} then enumerate the sacrifices brought for a baby boy at the end of forty days and for a baby girl at the end of eighty days.
Many find difficulty with this concept of a woman becoming t'mayah after birth. They erroneously see this as an implication that birth is in some way 'dirty' and thereby brings on impurity. The fact that this period of impurity is double when a girl is born further exacerbates this perception.
In order to properly understand this we must gain a proper understanding of the concept of tum'ah {ritual impurity}.
Tum'ah does not seem to work according to the rules that we'd assume would apply. Animals have no tum'ah during their lifetime, human beings do. Furthermore, upon death a Jew has a greater level of tum'ah than a gentile.
The commentators explain that when an existing kedusha {holiness} departs, a vacuum is formed. That void which is created is immediately filled with tum'ah. The greater the level of kedusha, the greater the degree of tum'ah that will fill the void.
During one's lifetime, one has tremendous potential to bring 'tov' {good} and holiness to this world. While asleep, a person is incapable of performing any such acts. As a result, a 'ruach rah', a certain degree of tum'ah, sets in to fill the void formed by that lack of potential. Upon awakening, that potential kedusha returns. The ruach rah is pushed to the fingers and n'tilas yadayim {the ritual washing of the hands} is performed in order to remove that ruach rah.
The Talmud teaches that sleep is 1/60th of death. That temporary state of inability experienced during sleep becomes permanent at death. At that permanent state of inability the tum'ah sets in at a far greater level. The greater the potential for bringing tov into this world during life, the greater the vacuum that is created at death and filled with tum'ah. The corpse of a Jew therefore has a greater degree of tum'ah than that of a gentile.
Now lets see how this can be applied to the tum'ah of a woman after childbirth.
Our goal is to become as similar to Hashem as we can. "Just as He is compassionate, so too must you be compassionate..." Our life goal and project is to emulate Him to the best of our ability.
If we were to choose one word to best describe the unique character of Hashem, an excellent choice would be 'Creator.' At what point does a human being moves as close as possible to becoming a 'creator'? A woman at childbirth! At that time she is as 'G-d-like' as we ever can be. However, after birth she is no longer in that state. That kedusha is no longer there. A vacuum is formed--she becomes t'mayah.
Why is the period of tum'ah twice as long after a baby girl is born? Because she created a being which has the potential to create. She created a creator. However, once the birth had been completed, she is no longer in that state. The drop is that much more precipitous-the void is that much greater. She is t'mayah for twice as long.
People have feelings of emptiness and voids at different points of their lives. Perhaps these are the tangible stirrings of the vacuum created black of connection to holiness-the holiness for which we were created. May we merit to fill that void with the types of acts which make us most similar to our Creator.
Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner

Of the various Christian holy days that take place throughout the year, Candlemass (or Candelaria), on February 2nd, may be one of the least well-known ceremonies in the Christian world. Evangelical Protestants do not count it as a major observance, while Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox churches hold it in high esteem. Regardless of how your church celebrates or does not celebrate Candlemass, Sharefaith is prepared with a media selection perfect for the event. Visit our site or find out more.

History of Candlemass
The celebration of Candlemass originated in the late fifth century as a tribute to the light of God's glory that was manifested in Christ Jesus. The earliest known observance within the Church was in the year AD 496, during the time of Pope Gelasius. In AD 542 the Emperor Justinian ordained that the Eastern Church celebrate the festival, which he called Hypapante, or "Meeting". The name was derived from the Gospel of Luke 2:22-40, wherein Simeon the priest and Anna the prophetess met the infant Jesus in the temple at the time of his consecration. Simeon's prophecy declared Jesus to be the Lord's salvation and "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." This passage continues to be the focus of the celebration.

During Candelaria, candles are blessed, lit, and borne in a procession in celebration to Jesus being the light of the world. In AD 638, Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, proclaimed the importance of the celebration in his sermon to the church, stating: "Our bright shining candles are a sign of divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ." The candles are generally considered to represent the inner light of Christ, which he brought to share with the world.

The timing for Candlemass is also in accordance with the Mosaic Law, which required that a woman should purify herself for forty days after giving birth, and, at the end of her purification, should present herself to the priest at the temple and offer a sacrifice (Leviticus 12:6-7). The Roman Catholic Churches seem to devote greater focus to this aspect of Candlemass, as evidenced by their ritual of the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, while the Anglican Churches celebrate the Wives' Feast, which is a time when women gather with feasting and socializing.

Candelaria on February 2nd
The date of February 2nd places the Candelaria celebration forty days after Christmas and continues the religious cycle that leads up to Easter Sunday. Additionally, it is also the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, which is the basis for various ancient European celebrations that commemorate the annual beginnings of the agricultural season.

Also of note concerning Candlemass is its connection to Groundhog Day, which occurs on the same date. This tradition also finds its origin in European folklore, as a prediction for the coming spring.

For the Church, however, Candelaria remains a day of hope and light. It is a time to honor the Lord as the Light of the World and to remind us that we too have that light within us.


The Encounter Between Chaos and Light
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
In everyday modern life we are hardly aware that on February 2nd we celebrate an ancient feast, common to the Church of both East and West, which used to have a great significance in the rural calendar: Candlemas. Tributaries from many historical sources have flowed together into this feast, with the result that it sparkles with many colors. Its immediate reference is to the event when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth to perform the prescribed sacrifice of purification.
The liturgy focuses mainly on one detail of Luke's portrayal: the meeting between the Child Jesus and the aged Simeon. Thus in the Greek-speaking world the feast was called HYPAPANTI (the encounter). In this juxtaposition of the Child and the old man, the Church sees the encounter between the passing heathen world and the new beginning in Christ, between the fading age of the Old Covenant and the new era of the Church of all nations.
What this expresses is more than the eternal recurrence of death and becoming; it is more than the consoling thought that the passing of one generation is always succeeded by a new one with new ideas and hopes. If that were all, this Child would not represent a hope for Simeon but only for himself. But it is more: it is hope for everyone, because it is a hope transcending death.
This brings us to a second aspect of this day which the liturgy illuminates. It takes up the words of Simeon when he calls this Child "a light to enlighten the Gentiles". Accordingly this day was made into a feast of candles. The warm candlelight is meant to be a tangible reminder of that greater light which, for and beyond all time, radiates from the figure of Jesus. In Rome this candlelit procession supplanted a rowdy, dissolate carnival, the so-called Amburbale, which had survived from paganism right into Christian times. The pagan procession had magical features: it was supposed to effect the purification of the city and the repelling of evil powers. To remind people of this, the Christian procession was originally celebrated in black vestments and then in purple--until the Council's liturgical reform. Thus the element of encounter, again, was evident in this procession: the pagan world's wild cry for purification, liberation, deliverance from dark powers, meets the "light to enlighten the Gentiles", the mild and humble light of Jesus Christ. The failing (and yet still active) aeon of a foul, chaotic, enslaved and enslaving world encounters the purifying power of the Christian message.
It reminds me of something the playwright Eugene Ionesco wrote. As the inventor of the Theatre of the Absurd, he articulated the cry of an absurd world and was increasingly aware that it was a cry for God. "History", he said recently, "is a process of corruption, it is chaotic, unless it is oriented to the supernatural." The candle-lit procession in black garments, the symbolic encounter between chaos and light which it represents, should remind us of this truth and give us courage to see the supernatural, not as a waste of time, distracting us from the business of ameliorating the world, but as the only way in which meaning can be brought to bear on the chaotic side of life.
Reproduced from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Seek That Which Is Above, Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 1986), with permission of the publishers.

Dear friends: forty days ago we celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now we recall the day on which he was presented in the Temple, when he was offered to the Father and shown to his people. As a sign of his coming among us, his mother was purified, as we now come to him for cleansing. In their old age Simeon and Anna recognised him as their Lord, as we today sing of his glory. Today we celebrate both the joy of his coming and his searching judgement, looking back to the day of his birth and forward to the coming days of his passion.
Almighty Father, whose Son Jesus Christ was presented in the Temple and acclaimed the light of the nations: grant that in him we may be presented to you and may we reflect his glory in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.
The following responses are used as the church candles are lit
Minister: The Lord is the strength of my life The Lord is my light and my salvation
Minister: Jesus Christ is the light of the world
All: A light which no darkness can quench

Minister: Jesus says, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me shall not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ Let us t
hen bring our secret sins into his light and confess themin penitence and faith.
All: Father eternal, giver of light and grace, we have sinned against you and against our neighbour, in what we have thought, in what we have said, in what we have done and in what we have not done. We have not loved you with our whole heart we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. we are truly sorry and turn away from what is wrong. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past; and lead us out from darkness to walk as children of light. Amen.
The minister will declare the words of forgiveness
The congregation will stand
Minister: O Lord open our lips
All: And our mouth shall proclaim your praise
Minister: Let us worship the Lord
All: All praise to his name Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for be for ever. Amen.

Simeon calls Jesus "a light to enlight
en the Gentiles." Accordingly this
day was made into Candlemas, a
feast of candles. The warm
candlelight is meant to be a tangib
le reminder of that greater light
which, for and beyond all time, radiates
from the figure of Jesus. We
are reminded of the need to be prepar
ed to burn brightly ourselves in
the midst of this dark world. We take
a light away this morning, it is
not our own light, no light of our own
would be bright enough, rather it
is the light of Christ. The light which at the beginning of creation
shined in the darkness and which no darkness could overcome.
Jesus was a light to lighten the gent
iles, all the nations and races and
culture of people. Bless these candles Lord, that through the prayer
we offer as we light them, your light
may shine brightly in our lives.
The Candlemas Prayer
Lord God, you are the source of everlasting light.
Your son, our beloved Lord Jesus
was presented in the temple 40 days after his birth.
He was recognised by Simeon and Anna,
and welcomed as the promised Messiah.
May we like them, behold the glory of the Lord Jesus.
Grant that we may stand before you
with hearts cleansed by your forgiving love.
May we serve you all our days
and make your name known
as we worship you as our Lord.
So may we come by your grace
to eternal life .

O God, who in the work of creation commanded the light to shine out
of darkness: we pray that the light
of the glorious gospel of Christ
may shine into the hearts of all
your people, dispelling the darkness
of ignorance and unbelief , and re
vealing to them the knowledge of
your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high has broken upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you
And also with you.
Father: Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light that enlightens every man who comes into the world, pour forth Thy blessing upon these candles; sanctify them by the light of Thy grace and mercifully grant that as candles by their visible light scatter the darkness of night, so too our hearts, burning with invisible fire, may be freed from all blindness of sin. With the eyes of our soul purified by Thy Light, may we discern those things that art pleasing to Thee and helpful to us, so that having finished the darksome journey of this life, we may come to never-fading joys through Thee, O Jesus Christ, Savior of the world. In perfect Trinity Thou livest and reignest God forever.
All: Alleluia.

P. Let us pray. Almighty and ever-living God, your only-begotten Son was presented this day in the temple.  May we be presented to you with clean and pure hearts by the same Jesus Christ, our great high priest, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  (ELW)


No comments: