I realize that few people truly celebrate Groundhog Day, but I absolutely LOVE it! Did you know that Groundhog Day was actually Candlemas? Candlemas is a Christian holiday which celebrates one of the earliest events in the life of Jesus Christ ~ his presentation at the Temple 40 days after his birth. This was also the time that Mary was "ritual purification". Jesus was presented to Simeon. The significance of the presentation to Simeon in particular is that it was prophesied that Simeon would live to lay eyes on the Savior.
In older times Candlemas was a day to have your candles blessed by the priest. This is connected to the fact that Jesus is known as The Light of the World. Candlemas was also a day that was to foretell the weather. This is a traditional German poem about Candlemas Day:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
The Germans used a hedgehog, but when they came to America, they had to settle for a groundhog. So, what exactly should one do on Groundhog Day? Well, first the day should be spent by candlelight! Kids, especially, will have a ball with this, but who doesn't love to have dinner by candlelight? Since it is still so dark in the morning, a candlelight breakfast is a must! Now, I have read about many connections between pancakes and Groundhog Day, but I have yet to understand exactly WHY pancakes are traditional on Candlemas/Groundhog Day. But, since it is a celebration, why not go all out? I found this post about Groundhog Pancakes that I thought was adorable:
Alison, the author of the AMAZING blog HowDoesShe has some great ideas too! And how can I talk about Groundhog Day without mentioning Secrets of a Super Mommy's blog!?! She does an awesome Silly Socks Valentine Day Advent/Countdown that includes lots of Groundhog Day fun! They dined on the floor and ate a groundhog-shaped meatloaf!
I decided that I would extend the fun to my students this year and made them Groundhog Grub treat bags filled with gummi worms. I really like how they came out:
Last year, we planned on attending the Groundhog Day ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo to see what Staten Island Chuck's prediction would be, but we had a bad snowstorm! So we didn't attend, but we did stay home and have fun anyway! We cooked chocolate chip pancakes and I picked up a store-bought cake that I decorated with a groundhog statue that I have and buried him in graham crackers to make it look like he was coming out of the ground. It came out cute! And our daughter had a lot of fun too :)
I would love to hear about any fun things/traditions or ideas you have for Groundhog Day!
Befana comes tonight! This holiday really involves very little as far as preparation. Befana comes and leaves a basket of goodies (and some small toys if you wish). I made a broom bag with candy that I saw on Pinterest. I also left a poem/letter from Befana. Lastly, our daughter is getting three more animals to add to her Little People Zoo Talkers. Here are some pictures:
This is the broom bag filled with candy :)
Close up of the poem...please note this is an original work protected by copyright :)
Very few people celebrate what was originally the Christmas season of Christmastide. This time was traditionally celebrated from December 25th through Epiphany on January 6th. I always feel so sad when all the Christmas decorations come down and I really prefer using Christmastide to gradually take down the decorations. As I blogged about earlier, our Christmas tree is transformed into a New Year's tree. I decorate with clock faces and these adorable little ornies I purchased from Etsy last year:
I also purchased some silver glitter butterflies and snowflakes as well as purple icicles that were on clearance this year. The tree topper was a party hat. I thought it came out really nice this year!
I have been using the Twelve Days of Christmas muffin tin that I made to teach our daughter twelve different names for Jesus. I am always amazed by how much she absorbs. I realize that she cannot fully grasp the magnitude of these names and their meanings, but I am laying the foundation for future teaching. On the eve of Epiphany (January 5th) Befana will come as part of our Christmastide celebrations and in honor of our daughter's Italian heritage. I have been reading the book Old Befana by Tomie dePaolo to her at night before bed and she loves to tell us all about Befana sweeping and flying and carrying her basket. Befana will bring Bella a few small toys and some treats (oranges mainly.) Epiphany is also the day we celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings/Magi to bearing gifts to honor Jesus. I'd love to do a Kings' Cake this year, but it may have to be a Pillsbury version ;)
On Sunday we are going to a storytelling event that we attended last year as well. It was a fantastic free <3 event hosted at Staten Island's Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Last year was fun although our daughter was afraid to go anywhere near Befana (as I suspect she will be afraid this year as well.) I hope it is the same woman though because she did a fabulous job!
Oh, before I forget...the one thing that I did not get to post a picture of for Noon Year's/New Year's was the Oreo cookie clock platter that I made. Our daughter loved it!
Happy New Year! I wish everyone a GREAT 2012 filled with fabulous memories!