Today’s Feast within the Church is known by many names. Most common are Candlemas or The Presentation of the Lord. According to Jewish law, the firstborn male child of any union belonged to God in a unique way.
While we all belong to God, Jewish law of old said that the first born male of any union needs to be ransomed or bought back by his parents. On the 40th day of their son’s life, his parents present their child in the temple and make a sacrifice for his release to their care. On this same day, the mother was ritually purified. Throughout most Christian faiths, and especially within the Catholic faith, there is a strong connection to these Jewish roots.
The Presentation of the Lord has always been celebrated on a fixed day. Originally this was February 14, forty days after January 6th and the Feast of the Epiphany. While the Epiphany has never been considered the day of Christ’s birth, it is when the birth of our Savior was revealed. For the first 300 years of Christian faith, Christmas was not celebrated. The first record of a Christmas celebration is December 25, 336. This acknowledgment of an actual birth date changed the feast of the Presentation to February 2, forty days after Christmas.
Scripture tells us of Simeon and Anna who were at the temple in Jerusalem on the day the Lord was presented by his parents. Both were advanced in years, and both had waited, praying, that the face of the promised Messiah would be revealed to them before they died. It was Simeon who declared with joy that his prayers had been answered.
While you won’t find The Feast of the Purification of Mary, or the Candlemas or Presentation of the Lord in the Temple on any secular calendar, you will see Ground Hog Day. So what is the connection? It’s a strange one. Once upon a time, as a Scottish saying goes, “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another fight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.” For reasons beyond comprehension, this folklore of weather prediction evolved into groundhog day. The groundhog needs a bright day to see its shadow. Shadows spell six more weeks of winter while the groundhog continues to hibernate. While the saying is Scottish in roots, it was German immigrants of Pennsylvania that started the Groundhog Day tradition in 1887. Their inspiration came from the Candles of Candlemas. Traditionally, Candlemas celebrations began in a darkened church with people lighting candles from a single flame. The single flame represents the Light of Jesus Christ, which spreads from person to person until the whole of the church is bathed in light. What a beautiful image, don’t you think?
Today is also Thursday. Now as many of you know, we like to have an Italian Inspired Supper on Thursdays. What could be more Italian inspired than Spaghetti? Enjoy!
Spaghetti with Meaty Ragù
3 Garlic Cloves
1-1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons Basil
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 lb Italian Sausage
1 lb Ground Beef
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian Tomatoes
1 (26 oz) jar Pasta Sauce
1/2 cup Red Wine
8 oz Spaghetti
Peel and mince garlic, set aside. Measure out the thyme, basil and oregano. Place on the cutting board along with the garlic.
Heat a small pan over low heat. Once warmed, add the garlic and herbs. Roast until fragrant, just a few minutes. The house will smell like amazing herb-garlic toast. Set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, brown sausage and ground beef, crumbling the meats together as they brown. Drain well, return to pot.
Add herbs, garlic, Italian tomatoes, pasta sauce to the pot. Stir to blend. Measure wine into a measuring cup, pour into the empty pasta gar. Swirl wine to draw any remaining sauce into the mixture, add to the meat sauce. Bring to a full boil, lower heat and allow to simmer until ready to serve.
The longer the sauce simmers, the more intense the flavors. For best results, sauce should be allowed to simmer for a minimum of 1 hour for flavors to mature and sauce to thicken. If sauce becomes too dry, thin with a splash or two of wine.
For Spaghetti Noodles: Bring a pot of well-salted water to a full boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al-dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking water. DO NOT RINSE!
Serving options: Leave pasta in colander over a pot of barely simmering water. Let everyone serve themselves, using as much or as little of the sauce as desired. Or place pasta in a large serving bowl, spoon meat sauce over pasta, toss to blend and serve.
Serve the spaghetti any way you like, along with a salad, warm bread and wine for an amazing feast on this amazing day.
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Can’t beat a good Spag Bol
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