Groundhog Day – A Winter Milestone

Groundhog Day, February 2nd
Groundhog Day, February 2nd

A Quick Look at February 2nd Celebrations

1) According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again

2) According to an old Scotch couplet:

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

Another variation of the Scottish rhyme:

If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o’ winter to come and mair,
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half of winter’s gone at Yule.

3) The Germans recited:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.

Bridgit’s Cross symbolizes Imbolic Observance

4) Pagan or Wiccan observance:

Imbolc (pronounced IM-bulk or EM-bowlk) is one of four major pagan sabbats, or holidays, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. In between these sabbats, pagans celebrate the seasonal solstices and equinoxes. Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honoring of Brigid, so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. Imbolc marks the early signs of Spring, such a snowdrops and crocuses, and the lengthening of days. The lighting of fires and candles represent the return of the sun and a celebration of ritual cleansing and purification.

Bridgit’s Cross: The center cross is traditionally made out of rushes and is hung over a doorway for protection. Surrounding the cross is the blackberry, one of Brigid’s sacred plants. Her symbols: Harp—She is the Goddess of poetry and music. Cauldron—She is a fire Goddess. Triskellion—She is a Celtic Triple Goddess. Brigid’s Knot—A Celtic knot made in her honor.

Early Christians Celebrated Candlemas
Early Christians Celebrated Candlemas

5) Candlemas:

The presentation of Jesus in the temple and the ritual purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Western Church, a procession with lighted candles is the most common rite. For early Christians in Europe, the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute candles to the people. Interestingly, there is a good deal of crossover between Imbolic and Candlemas when it comes ancient celebrations. Celebrated cross-culturally, the day is both a Christian and Pagan holiday, known variously as Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day (Bride’s Day), and Candlemas (“mass of the candles”, which in the Catholic religion marks the end of the Yule season).

Farming Collage
Ground Hog Day – Half Your Hay

6) American 19th century farmers cited this:

Groundhog Day – Half your hay. Farmers believed that the remainder of winter would be the opposite of whatever the weather was like on Candlemas Day. New England farmers knew that if the farmer didn’t have half his hay remaining by 1/2 way through winter, there might be lean times for his livestock by the time spring grasses supplied abundant forage again.

FEB Collage
February 2nd is the Halfway Point of Winter

Myths such as these serve to remind us that we are still tied to nature’s cycles, although not as closely as in the past when our ancestors’ relationship to and respect for agricultural cycles meant life or death. Many of today’s traditions and observances, such as Groundhog Day, are a blend of several past cultures, reflecting changes in belief systems, in religious thought, and in military or political edicts as well. What holds true however, is that February 2nd marks the half-way point of winter: the midpoint (on the Roman calendar) between the winter solstice and the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. A time to purge the old and  prepare for the new.

All images from Pinterest

For more in depth reading:

Imbolc 2016: Facts, Dates, Traditions And Rituals To Know


What is Candlemas?

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