Groundhog day (German-Penn) evolved from Candlemas Day (Christian) – which evolved from Imbolc (Celtic) —- which evolved from a few cave guys knowing they were passing the mid-point of winter and needing to jump around and do something.
“Stoke up the fire – it’s ON!!!”
“If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be twa winters in the year.”
This is an old Scottish poem about February 2nd – Twa means 2
Basically saying that if the sun is shining on this day then winter will be longer.
Candlemas – A mass of candles – all the candles in the church were fired up to help bring light and hope to winter wary folk. There is also a 40 days after this or the other with the virgin Mary and some other mumbo jumbo to help validate it.
– which make me a wee bit suspicious.
Because they needed to add more validation – they were trying extra hard to secure a claim.
On the left is the Saint Brigit and on the right is the Celtic goddess Brigid – Notice anything similar in these incredible hastily done illustrations?
- Thig an nathair as an toll
- Là donn Brìde,
- Ged robh trì troighean dhen t-sneachd
- Air leac an làir.
- The serpent will come from the hole
- On the brown Day of Bríde,
- Though there should be three feet of snow
- On the flat surface of the ground.
They both carry the fire of spring.
The ancient pagan festival of Imbolc in honor of this goddess of early spring is celebrated on February 2nd (it includes a little weather prognostication) – Christianity kept her fire and made her the Irish Patron Saint Brigit who has her day on February 1st.
I am totally OK with the practice of stamping new traditions on old ones – this one is very cool because aside from replacing the wild hair with a halo – they keep the entire package together.
Anyway- moving on to my debilitated history mixed with folklore.
The groundhog or ~ ah ~ hedgehog or bear or badger
Somehow a rodent got in the mix—-blame it on the Romans – blame it on an over zealous priest or wizard – blame it on what you want – there are a few different theories.
But at the base of it all – It’s a simple evolution of the “sunny weather or cloudy weather” theme — turning into “see my shadow” because that is far more poetic.
The hedgehog is in the mix—can also substitute a badger or bear in a pinch, if that is what you have lying around the house.
The Germans later settled in Pennsylvania and found no hedgehogs —but lots and lots of groundhogs.
So here we go with a very sketchy explanation of how we arrive at Punxsutawney Phil.
Disclaimer: I cannot defend my last few statements with any reference material whatsoever – please believe or not believe at you own risk.
Taking liberties from “see my shadow” to “I am a rodent that can only tell the guy with the tallest black hat what the future holds” — is all Punxsutawney shabby theater —and take it from this blogger – Well worth the trip!
From an old English poem:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
The basic theme is always the same —- a nice sunny day – be careful! Don’t to be lulled.
And a cloudy stormy day — take heed – spring may arrive sooner than you think.
Either way – Winter is coming to an end and we are looking forward to the next season.
This is the turning point – we are on the way out of the darkness and the cold.
I love this day.
Happy Groundhog day to all!
[All accidental illustrations done by me, if you would like to use any (really can’t think why) just ask me]
23 thoughts on “Groundhog Day – My Favorite Holiday”
Beautiful blogging Caveman. Don’t know about this ‘Groundhog Day’ but glad you love it and, in Australia, it is the end of a hot dry summer so miserable wet winter is now a welcome thought. Love your illustrations and good humour. Shall return!
Imbolc is my halfway through winter day; there is always 6 more weeks of it here. Good drawings for this well researched story. Have you started working on your Beltane post yet?
I haven’t – I don’t know if I was going to – my brain is not working great at the moment.
I love the disclaimer haha. All the gods and deity’s should take note! Great post. My knowledge of groundhog day was from the film by that name. I kinda expected you’d just keep re-posting this post every day from now on 🙂
Yesterday, on my way home from work, I had to stop to let an echidna cross the road- very similar to a hedgehog, but I’m not sure of its message- maybe “slow down”- effective cause I actually slowed to a stop until it waddled one way then back the other way to the safety of a grassy patch by the side of the road.
That is very cool – since you stopped for one of these fellas – you either live in Australia or next to a zoo with suspect fencing. 🙂 I drove by a coyote which was soaked in rain on the side of the highway yesterday- People think they are a menace-but very regal animals to me. Thanks for visiting! Wayne
Yes, live in Australia. Coyotes are beautiful, I agree!
Most interesting! Dig the sketches, too.
… when I think Groundhog Day I think Bill Murray.
Great movie and interesting genius of a comic – dig his style.
Love it! Happy Groundhog Day! 🙂
Happy Groundhog’s Day Wayne
Thanks for reading from my blog. This is a really first-rate summation and interpretation of this oh-so-strange celebration. It is ancient custom turned into modern custom (the wearing of top hats, for example–unless the Romans have these, too). The comparison of Brigids if first-rate. And your own turn of phrase, such as “winter wary” and “trying extra hard to stake a claim,” is reasoned and engaging. Happy G-Day to you!
Thanks for the kinds words – spring is on the way!
Happy February 2nd Wayne!
Your illustrations are great! Ha ha I can only do match sticks guys and it looks worst than kindy kids talent! Thanks for the information on Groundhog day! 😀
Thank you GH – I have a little more time to sketch now! 🙂
Look forward to seeing more of your posts and sketches Wayne! Have a great day ahead
I sketched a bit and wrote a bit – and I really do love this day Cheryl – thanks for checking in. 🙂
Funny-I enjoyed it! Hope you are doing well Wayne. Cheryl
This makes me think two things: (1) “Half your wood and half your hay / should be in hand on Candlemas Day.” No doubt sage advice for anyone living through a rural Northern winter. (2) “Groundhog Day” is a peculiarly great movie.
Yes and yes – and there is much more to add to this wonderful celebration. A “garden variety” blogger can only do so much. 🙂