Engage

Illumination on Groundhog Day

Did the groundhog see his shadow today? So, should I go ahead and plant my spring garden? Or should I get some more wood for the fireplace? The midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox is February 2. Tradition says that if the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2, that winter could be long and cold. If he does not see his shadow, then it could be a mild rest of the winter. However, the groundhog weather prediction is only about 40% right. I wondered, and perhaps you have as well, what are some of the roots of Groundhog Day? After looking in to the matter, I found some interesting things.

On February 2, starting in the 4th century, Candlemas Day was a “purification holiday and a celebration of the return of light”[1] The ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas was a time when “clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be.”[2] Candlemas Day is also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary or the Feast of Presentation.[3] Forty days (as instructed in Lev 12) after Jesus’ birth (assuming it was on December 25) would put these two feasts on February 2. According to Luke 2:22-32, Simeon was at the temple the day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple. Interestingly, Simeon said, “for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory of your people Israel.” Did you notice the phrase Simeon used, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles”?

Jesus did bring salvation to the Gentiles from sin’s darkness to God’s light. In John 8:12, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world.” Because Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20), we are His light to the world. We are commanded to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is heaven” (Matt 5:16). The purpose of being called out of the darkness into the light was so we would proclaim His excellencies (1 Pet 2:9). Furthermore, we are exhorted to “walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8). His Word shows us how to live for Him as it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps 119:105). As Christ lives His life through us, we “shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15).

Where in your life do you long for light for guidance or to be light to those around you? Perhaps different roles come to mind such as daughter, wife, parent, grandparent, friend, or worker. Or maybe you have a sinful habit that you need to dispose of so you can be more of light to the world? Or perhaps you need to adjust your schedule so you can soak in more His light? I hope you will ponder these questions, as I have, desiring His illumination.      

So, who would have thought an illumination of Groundhog Day would bring to light Simeon’s words for us today and challenge us to desire more light through us? This year Groundhog Day has taken on a completely different meaning for me and is drawing me closer to the Lord. How about you?          


Image by Marc Ignacio on Unsplash, accessed January 8, 2022.

[1] “Imbolc,” This Day in History, 2021, accessed January 7, 2022,  https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/imbolc.  

[2] “First Groundhog Day,” This Day in History, 2021, accessed January 7, 2022, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-groundhog-day.

[3] “Candlemas Day,” National Today, 2021, accessed January 7, 2022, https://nationaltoday.com/candlemas-day/.

PJ Beets is passionate about encouraging women through the Scriptures and life to see the compassionate God who redeems the rejected by acceptance, the silenced by expression, the labored by grace, and the lonely by love in order to set them free to serve in His ordained place and way for them individually and corporately. She has served the Lord through Bible Study Fellowship and her home church in various capacities with women. Upon turning fifty, she sought the Lord on how He would have her finish well which began her journey at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies as well as a Doctorate of Educational Ministry in Spiritual Formation, both from from DTS. PJ is married to Tom, has three children, and three grandchildren.

Leave a Reply