Candlemas and Groundhog Day on February 2nd

Groundhog Day, the popular American holiday, has its roots in the European holiday Candlemas.

Both seem to have developed from an ancient Celtic festival called Imbolc. Imbolc festivities involved lighting fires, in part in honor of Brigid, the Goddess of fertility, love and fire. Imbolc also celebrated the fact that the days would become longer and the sun stronger over the next few months.

Candlemas, Groundhog Day and Imbolc are all celebrated at the mid point between the Winter Solstice and the first day of Spring. They all involve the hope of good weather for the next 6 weeks… the remainder of winter.

I suppose this is why pancakes and crepes are the preferred foods for Candlemas… they’re round and yellow, like the longed for sun.

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s hard to remember how the weather on this day predicts the weather for the rest of the winter, it’s because all of the Candlemas and Groundhog Day sayings are counterintuitive. They say that if the weather is nice on February 2nd the rest of the winter will be colder, more severe. If the weather on the 2nd is crummy, the rest of the winter is supposed to have nice weather.

As for the groundhog, if he sees his shadow, that means it’s a sunny day on February 2nd and the myth is that the rest of the winter will be colder. So we all hope he will not see his shadow and that February 2nd will have miserable weather!

For Christians, Candlemas is the day that candles are blessed in churches. Another symbol of fire! So people put lit candles in their windows in honor of the day.

Lastly, this day is called the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. It was believed that after giving birth women were unclean. They had to be purified 40 days after their child was born. Thus Candlemas is 40 days after Jesus was born, when Mary would have been purified.

Here are some rhymes and proverbs for Candlemas and groundhog day…

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight

If on Candlemas Day it be shower and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.

If Candlemas Day be damp and black,
It will carry cold winter away on its back.

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be two winters in the year.

If the groundhog sees his shadow
We will have six more weeks of Winter.
If he doesn’t see his shadow,
We will have an early Spring.

Groundhog Day Half your Hay

(Meaning you’d better have half of your hay left to feed the animals, because you’re only half-way through the winter)

Happy Candlemas and Happy Groundhog Day!


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