Candlemas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the day Jesus was presented to God at a temple in Jerusalem. As Jesus is considered to be the “Light” the lighting of candles on this day became tradition many years later.
The fact that this day also happens to land smack dab in the middle of winter during many pagan holidays may or may not be coincidence. We do know that the Christian church often adjusted their holidays to match with Pagan beliefs in order to convert them.
The Germans had a saying for this time of year, “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…” and they brought this saying to Pennsylvania with them.
Finding groundhogs to be plentiful and intelligent, they determined that if one were to see his shadow on this day that lies halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, then winter would last another six weeks. If the groundhog did not see his shadow, we would have an early spring.
And so for over 120 years Punxsutawney Phil has predicted if spring was around the corner or if we should hunker down for a long winter.
While we all know that a groundhog cannot predict the weather or the change of season, human kind is nothing but rich in tradition.
Tomorrow at daybreak, Phil (as he is affectionately know by his close friends) will be taken from his burrow and will predict for the world what the next six weeks will bring.
I think Ground Hog day is one of my favorite days. It reminds me that I have made it through half the winter, the days are getting longer and soon there will be signs of spring.
I cannot say for sure what Phil’s accuracy record is, but I am an optimist by choice and regardless of whether he sees his shadow tomorrow or not, I am excited that in six more weeks we can say it is spring.
Of course, I did check the weather for Philadelphia for tomorrow and it is supposed to be cloudy. 🙂
You can find out more about Ground Hog Day at http://www.groundhog.org/