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]