February 2, Groundhog day, originated as a cross-quarter day which is the midpoint between a solstice and equinox. For the ancient Celts, cross-quarter days marked the beginning of each season, with the major two divisions being winter (Samhain), starting the dark half of the year, and summer (Beltane), starting the light half of the year.

Groundhog day acquired its English name, Candlemas,  from the candles lit that day in churches to celebrate the presentation of the Christ Child in the temple of Jerusalem.

It was not held as a good omen if the day itself was bright and sunny, for that betokened snow and frost to continue to the hiring of the laborers 6 weeks later on Lady Day.

If it was cloudy and dark, warmth and rain would thaw out the fields and have them ready for planting. Our Groundhog Day is a remote survivor of that belief.

Regardless, it is an imminent reminder that the countdown to spring (and the push to finish winter work) has started.


(c) Brandon L. Blankenship, Alabama Birmingham Hoover Pelham, Image Credit: Groundhog Kitty Terwolbeck CC flickr 24DEC2013