Groundhog Day is really another celebration of the birth of Christ, but few realize it because it has undergone a lot of change over the centuries. Feb. 2 used to be called Candlemas Day. a feast day commemorating when the Virgin Mary, in obedience to Jewish law, went to the temple in Jerusalem both to be purified 40 days after the birth of her son, and to present her child to God as her firstborn. This is documented in Luke 2:22-38. It has been a celebration since the 4th century and was observed with lighted candles, hence the name “Candlemas”.

Folklore and superstition became attached to the celebration and changed it over the centuries. There was an old belief that all Christmas decorations must be down before Candlemas Day or ill tidings would occur. It was thought that if a single leaf or berry used for decorating the church was left in the church pew that someone who usually occupied that seat would die before another Yuletide. It was a strong enough belief that wealthier families would send servants down to the church to sweep out the pews on Candlemas Eve.

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