Thursday, 2 February 2012

Groundhog day...

Brrrrr it was a frosty start to the morning, the canal at the bottom of the garden was all iced over and the ground rock hard beneath my feet when I skipped outside to refill the bird feeder. Why am I telling you this? Well because the weather today has traditionally been watched very closely because today is 'Groundhog Day'.

In ancient times today was the 'Feast of Lights' the half way point between the shortest day of the year and the Spring equinox - traditionally this is the day that winter should give up and give way to Spring. So today is the day that we watch the weather and wild creatures to see what weather we're going to have for the rest of Spring.

In the USA this is done by watching a small creature known as a Groundhog - if the groundhog doesn't come out of its burrow it's going to be a cold wintery Spring, but if it comes out and plays then Winter has lost the fight and Spring is on its way! They do the same in Germany but with badgers... but since Hollywood hasn't made a "Badger Day" it's not as well known.

So how do you know if Winter has lost the battle to Spring?

If Candlemas day be clear and bright
Winter will have another fight
If Candlemas day brings cloud and rain
Winter will not come again.

Today it's clear, birght and very very frosty. I think Spring may have lost this years battle.

Oh and Candlemas? It's the Christian celebration of the purification of Mary (Jewish women are considered unclean after birth for 40 days after having a boy - 60 for a girl and were not allowed to worship in the temple during that time - today is 40 days after Jesus's birth so the day he was brought into the temple with his Mother). To celebrate brining the 'Light of Jesus' into the Church - church candles are blessed on this day - hence Candlemas.

Other beliefs:
If you bring snowdrops into the house today it signifies a parting or death to come in the year.

Scottish children traditionally brought candles to school today to light up the class room on dull days throughout the rest of Spring. Since the introduction of gas or electric lights this became money (no not for the meter) to buy sweets. The child that donated the most money became the 'Candlemas King / Queen' for the next 6 weeks, a title that allowed them to declare one whole afternoon of playtime once a week and to pardon people for punishment.

So snuggle up those of you that had a frosty start to your day, Old Father Winter is here to stay for a while longer!

No comments:

Post a Comment