The Armchair Liturgist: Groundhogs, Candles, or Crêpes?

How do you observe the turning point of winter, the Feast of the Presentation, or Pancake Day? It’s a holy enough day to bump an ordinary Sunday, but not to compel midweek Mass attendance. To me that suggests just another ordinary day, though with white vestments.

Does your parish bless candles, and/or are people invited to bring candles from home? In one parish I served, the administration bought the candles, blessed them then sold them to parishioners.

blueberry pancakesIs this a good day for a pancake breakfast? Or is it just another day at the parish center? By the way, have any scraps of Christmas décor been left, or at least, brought out today?

Sit in the purple chair and render judgment: how would you dictate the observance of February 2?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Groundhogs, Candles, or Crêpes?

  1. Liam says:

    I didn’t know until now the French tradition of crepes for this day. I am more familiar with the English tradition of pancakes on Shrove Monday.

    In both cases, the customs appear to have been designed to use up eggs and butter that were not being saved for preservation during Lent (February 4th is the earliest date on which Ash Wednesday can fall), back in the medieval period when the Latin Lenten abstinence was closer to that of the Eastern churches. Eggs could be pickled, or cooked with butter in the form of baked goods that would be drenched in liquor for eating come Eastertide. It was easier to preserve things in the cooler parts of northern and central/eastern Europe.

    In any event, I have fond memories of my days in college and law school being able to participate in parochial liturgies for the day. Have never been able to since, except when it falls on Sunday (when it falls on Saturday, the evening Mass should arguably take the propers of Presentation….).

    And I am definitely familiar with the southern German/Austrian conception of today being the day by which Christmas greenery is taken down. I’ve traditionally done that with my front-door wreath, but this year it was too dessicated to leave up this long!.

    • Liam says:

      PS: If it’s not clear, I’m not a daily Mass attendant – the only time I was was when I was in college. Daily Mass schedules around here are definitely organized around the schedules of parish staff, retirees, and stay-at-home parents after they drop kids off a school. The days of parishes scheduling quick daily Masses that workers could attend before going to shift work at a factory are gone with the wind.

  2. Liam says:

    PPS: A little treasury of former customs for the day:

    This is also the traditional end of the use of the Alma Redemptoris Mater as the Marian antiphon for Compline, with tomorrow starting the Ave Regina Caelorum until Holy Saturday.

  3. Mary says:

    In Ireland they leave the candles until the 3rd, and use ’em in blessing throats for St Blaise. Harks from they days of invoking saints, instead of hand-washing, to ward off germs, I’d imagine.

    • Jim McCrea says:

      Do you use lighted or unlighted candles? In the parish of my childhood, they were lighted and scared the bejesus out of everyone, particularly women with hair longer than a brush cut. But common sense was not allowed to prevail over custom.

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