Candlemas Day

Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia’s groundhog, did not see his shadow today. According to tradition this means we’ll have an early spring.

However, down in Pennsylvania, Puxsutawney Phil did see his shadow. It’s weird that spring will be in Canada before it arrives in the USA.

This is an ancient Christian celebration dating back longer than I’ve been alive. Known as Candlemas Day, it marked the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year while spring equinox is when there is an equal amount of daylight as there is night time. Today, we’re right smack in the middle. You might have noticed that it’s light for just a bit longer than it was at the same time a month ago.

Anyway, clergy would bless candles and then pass said candles out to the people. The superstition was as true back then as it is today. If there is sun we’ll have six more weeks of winter and if it’s cloudy then spring will come early. Sometime later, the Germans introduced the hedgehog into the prediction. If their hedgehog saw his shadow then we’d have more bad weather, a second winter.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again

When the German then migrated to the New World they brought their lederhosen and traditions with them. However, due to a lack of hedgehogs in Pennsylvania, they switched to groundhogs.

In 1886, just 110 years after the US declared their independence, a newspaper by the name of Punxsutawney Spirit, printed the first news of Groundhog Day to be observed. The next year, The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob.  The editor of that paper declared Punxsutawney Phil to be America’s whether forecasting groundhog.

Wikipedia lists 26 prognosticators. Thirteen saw their shadow and predict six more weeks of winter. For those you who struggle with math, that leaves thirteen others who are predicting an early spring. I guarantee at least half of the 26 are right.

Technically, we have 6 more weeks of winter no matter what the groundhogs and hedgehogs say.

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