Happy Candlemas Day
Yesterday was Groundhog Day, but the day also marked a celebration that came before Groundhog Day — Candlemas.
This little-known Christian holy day served as a marker for the folks who lived in the northern climes in ages past — in very much the same way Groundhog Day does today.
Depending on the weather on Candlemas, the farmers would begin to plan their planting season. Serving as it does — a kind of half-way point between the start of winter and the coming of spring — the season begins to tilt this time of year.
The recent clash of cold and warm weather systems shows that this age-old cycle is still in force in some ancient way. The name Candlemas comes from an old custom of blessing the candles used in church.
Over the dark winter months, when it was a bit colder, candles were made and, of course, used to drive away darkness. So, celebrate either one or both and hope for warmer weather soon.
The Hancock Winter Festival is coming up Saturday, Feb. 12. As usual, there will be a snow sculpture contest (maybe an ice sculpture contest after this week), winter hats, food, music and great fun for everyone. Next week's column will have more details about starting time, but this annual event takes place in Widmeyer Park.
Dancing in Hancock
Dance classes have come to Hancock. Join your friends from the Hancock Arts Council for some country western, ballroom, Latin and line dancing sponsored by the council and taught by Steve Silver.
Classes are held every Friday from Feb. 4 through March 25 at the Hancock Town Hall and Community Center, 126 W. High St. Beginners start at 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. with plus students from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (plus students need a command of basic steps in each dance). The cost is $8 per person or two for $15 (those ages 9 to 15 are free with paid parent). Plus students may come and review basics for $2 extra (three hours total). For more information, call 301-331-3616. Please wear soft-soled shoes, not gym shoes.
Stop Smoking for Life
The Washington County Health Department will offer the Hancock area a Stop Smoking for Life program funded by the Cigarette Restitution Fund.
Sessions will be held Tuesday evenings from 5 to 6 in the Community Room of the Hancock Town Hall. The classes begin Feb. 15 and continue through March 8.
They are free, but registration is required. Free nicotine replacement therapy patches are available while supplies last. To register, call 240-313-3360 (TDD/TTY 240-313-3391). Language interpretation assistance is available without cost.
Remembering Dr. Thomas
And finally, Hancock lost a "pillar" of the community this past week, with the death of retired local physician, Dr. Frank B. Thomas.
I remember moving to Hancock more than 30 years ago and learning that we had our very own local general practitioner.
Thomas devotedly cared for four generations of locals in his time, treating a huge laundry list of ailments.
In the "olden days" he made house calls and probably in the more modern times as well, when necessary.
I suspect there were times that he "overlooked" past due bills, and he and his wife, Marion, a registered nurse, were extremely generous to many groups in this town groups of kids, youths and adults.
His funeral Mass at St. Peter Catholic Church on Monday was presided over by a favorite nephew who is a priest, and, amidst the standing-room-only crowd, were his successor, Dr. Duffy, friends, neighbors, a host of relatives and offspring of his nine children, and his wife, Marion — who said that she couldn't be sad on the day when her beloved Frank met Jesus face to face. Rest easy, Dr. Thomas. We will miss you so much.