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Robert Miller
by on February 3, 2022
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Ancient Celtic Calendar: Quarter Days and Cross-Quarter Days

 

February second - Groundhog Day, everyone waits to hear whether or not a groundhog sees his shadow or not. Will there be an early Spring or will fate suffer us with more bitter Winter weather? Have you ever stopped to wonder how Groundhog Day came about? 

 

Candlemas is or was also held on the second of February. Candles were lit by churches to celebrate the presentation of the Christ Child in the temple of Jerusalem. 

 

Originally on this day, it was called Imbolc (lambs’ milk) because the lambing season began. It's a term from Old Irish that is most often translated as “in the belly”—a reference to the soon-to-arrive lambs of spring. It was also called Brigantia for the Celtic female deity of light. Imbolc signals the season of new birth and light is on the horizon. The Celtic goddess Brigantia is associated with dawn, light, and spring, which are qualities later associated with Brigid of Kildare, a Christian saint (and one of Ireland’s patron saints). 

 

If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Come, Winter, have another flight;

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Go Winter, and come not again.

 

Groundhog Day has a rich history based on a deeper meaning; It’s a triumph of spring over winter—and birth over death, light over darkness. So why a groundhog? How on earth does a groundhog fit into this ancient festival? At first, it did not. Historically, the people of France and England sought guidance from a bear. Germany looked toward a badger for a sign. However in the 1800s when German immigrants came to Pennsylvania, they brought their Candlemas legends with them. They could not locate a badger so they adapted the New World species to fit the lore, they went with the groundhog. Today we look toward either Punxsutawney Phil or General Beauregard Lee to inform us when the darkness will give way to the light when new life will return to both the land and to the people. 

 

Groundhog Day and Candlemas Lore - 

 

If Candlemas [February 2] be mild and gay,

Go saddle your horses and buy them hay;

But if Candlemas be stormy and black,

It carries the winter away on its back.

 

Just half your wood and half your hay,

Should be remaining on Candlemas Day.

 

On Candlemas Day,

The good goose begins to lay.

 

When the wind’s in the east on Candlemas Day,

There it will stick till the 2nd of May.

 

On Candlemas Day, if the thorns hang a drop,

You are sure of a good pea crop.

 

Sources:

Groundhog Day 2022: Will Phil See His Shadow? | The Old Farmer's Almanac 

 

How Groundhog Day Ties to the Skies 

 

Ancient Celtic Calendar: Quarter Days and Cross-Quarter Days 

 

If you find this interesting then you will simply love How Easter's Date is Determined - The Surprising Origins of Easter Symbols: From Lambs to Lilies. Why Do We Dye Eggs? Who Is the Easter Bunny? Find Out! Discover for yourself why eggs play an important role in Easter…The origin of the Easter egg is based on ancient fertility lore. The history of Easter symbols is really quite interesting. It’s not as simple as saying whether they are pagan or Christian; history is a rich and beautiful tapestry woven through the ages. Explore with an open mind.

 

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