Happy Groundhog Day

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 2nd Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3cybvy2z/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Festivals

Phils (& Phyls) Campbell all over the US, and perhaps the world, have "adopted" Punxsutawney Phil as the unofficial mascot of our happy band. So we were interested to know if PP saw his shadow, or if spring was around the corner...

Feb 2 is Groundhog Day

This morning, I woke to medium heavy snow -- about three inches by 11am, and still coming down pretty fast. Since I live in the American South, this did not bode well for hopes of an early spring sighting in Pennsylvania (which is in the northern US). I was right: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow outside today, which means six more weeks of winter.

The Tradition of Groundhog Day

Some people think Groundhog Day is a made-up US tradition, like Thanksgiving or the 4th of July. However, Groundhog Day has its roots in the observation of Candlemas Day, also February 2nd, celebrated by Germans in pre-Christian era. These Germans brought the tradition to the US. Apparently, fair weather on Candlemas Day was seen as a slight reprieve from winter weather which would continue for six more weeks. Cloudy bad weather on the same day would indicate that the winter weather was passing and spring was coming. (eHow)

"If Candlemas be bright and clear / There'll be two winters in the year."
or
"If Candlemas be fair and bright, / Winter has another flight. / If Candlemas brings clouds and rain / Winter will not come again."

These poems, Groundhog Day clipart, games, and more are found here.

Imbolc

(image for this section is courtesy http://littleheksje.wordpress.com/tag/imbolc/)

The pagan tradition of Imbolc is held halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. The word "Imbolc" means "in the belly," and refers to the pregnancy of ewes. Since calendars were a little less formal compared to now, and ancient peoples looked to the weather and the animals to determine such events, the date of Imbolc and Candlemas could vary by region or by year.

Though there are some differences between it and Candlemas, the timing and origins are similar. Current tradition holds that Imbolc is celebrated the day before Candlemas. Imbolc celebrates the fertility goddess Brighid (also recognized as a Christian saint and martyr, though not for fertility!). Catholic girls in Ireland make Brighid's crosses to celebrate their youth and purity. They wear white dresses in parades down the streets.

In Gaelic tradition, the hag Cailleach gathers her firewood for the rest of winter. If she knows a longer winter is coming, she makes this day longer and brighter so she has more time to collect it.

Other Animals Used to Predict Weather

Some places use a hedgehog or badger, instead of a groundhog, to determine winter's passing in February.

Most people know that many birds and even some insect species are migratory, so if we see many flocks flying north or south, we might get a "bird's eye view" of what they think the weather will be. Snakes, being cold-blooded, are not active in winter, so areas with heavy snake populations might say spring is coming when they see their first snake. Animals that hibernate also alert humans around them as to the presence or absence of winter weather.

In bad weather, sheep flock together. Some cows get irritated before storms, or lay down on a dry spot before rain. Some say frogs croak louder before an impending storm. Others say their dogs get antsy before they can hear thunder. Since many animals are better attuned to the natural environment than humans are, none of these things should really be surprising.

Other Holidays Celebrated Today

February 2014 is very interesting in that Chinese New Year, Groundhog Day, and Superbowl Sunday have all fallen on the same weekend. Whatever you celebrate, make it a great day!

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Tags

Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil, Shadow, Winter

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar Steve Kinsman
2nd Feb 2014 (#)

Fascinating stuff, but I'm bummed to learn we're in for six more weeks of winter.

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
5th Feb 2014 (#)

Amen to that, Steve.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
2nd Feb 2014 (#)

So interesting, Phyl. Somehow, I don't think Badger Day has the same ring as Groundhog Day. Lol Seriously, great piece. Sharing now.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
2nd Feb 2014 (#)

Hi Phyl. Well this answers my question in response to your comment on my Groundhog Day article.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
2nd Feb 2014 (#)

this is great Phyl...you bloody did it again, did you not....February 2 is the celebration of the the coming of springtime and was usurped as Candlemas by the Christian Church to be established in favour of the Virgin Mary and the purification of Christ in the Temple..it is interesting how many Christian holidays were usurped from Druids and other earlier events going back thousands of years..

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Feb 2014 (#)

I don't judge the history, I just report it in cases like this. The early origins of this holiday are fascinating to me -- more so than whether my mascot Phil sees his shadow or not. Poor guy -- let him hibernate!! But it was either write about Groundhog day or Superbowl Sunday, and I can't even tell you which two teams are playing today, so...

Steve -- since it IS snowing here, it's possible that winter will soon be over in the south despite the Pennsylvania groundhog's predictions. This is especially true if Cailleach could not gather any firewood today, which she would definitely have difficulty doing here today. Still it is not unusual for Arkansas to have snow in February and again during Spring Break in March -- and shorts weather several days in-between. Phil's guess is as good as ours. But I can say it will be hot in July!!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Feb 2014 (#)

BTW -- Mark changed the category this page is found in. I think it's a good change. Thanks for that. (I had it as news.)

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
3rd Feb 2014 (#)

I am in Canada, so like it or not, I sort of knew I was in for 6 more weeks, but really I hope it is just 4, or less!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Feb 2014 (#)

I know what you mean! But come July, I know Arkansans (self included) who will be wishing for snow in triple digit heat!! We are never satisfied, methinks!!

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
3rd Feb 2014 (#)

Interesting post Puxta, still this year he predicted a long winter, Nice post!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, Fern!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
3rd Feb 2014 (#)

Good morning, Phyl; thanks for an informative, interesting and fun read. Enjoyed it. ~Mariyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
4th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, Ms. Marilyn!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
4th Feb 2014 (#)

Despite our scientific progress other species are more aware of "ground realities"! Thanks Phyl, through reading such posts I become more aware of our beliefs and varied culture - siva

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author avatar joyalariwo
4th Feb 2014 (#)

Interesting this ground hog day Phyl, animals can predict weather better than any scientific equipment, we only have to listen.

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author avatar Kingwell
4th Feb 2014 (#)

This is interesting. I know that there are other animals and insects who seem to know whether or not it's going to be a cold winter. The Beaver is a good example as he will build a snug house if the winter is going to be a rough one but be rather careless if it is going to be mild. I once had a friend who predicted the kind of winter we would have by watching the insects in his garden.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
5th Feb 2014 (#)

Siva, joyalariwo and Kingwell -- yes, I still think animals are smarter than we are -- certainly more attuned to nature. While we build shelters that will survive anything, they feel whether or not there is a need. So fascinating! Thanks for your comments!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
5th Feb 2014 (#)

Very cool article...thanks
Phyl...:0)

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
5th Feb 2014 (#)

This was such a fun AND informative article. In New York--and other places--we were spoiled by recent mild winters. People in other times knew Winter was no joke. I'm going to read it again.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
5th Feb 2014 (#)

Many thanks, Delicia and LR!!

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