For those of us of a certain age, Groundhog Day has a very specific meaning. If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it. It’s super funny and also has a lot to say about the patterns in which we find ourselves.
But where did Groundhog Day originate? According to History.com:
“Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal—the hedgehog—as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.”
So the day may have roots in Christian tradition, but where do those traditions originate? Also according to History.com, “Falling midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, February 2 is a significant day in several ancient and modern traditions. The Celts, for instance, celebrated it as Imbolc, a pagan festival marking the beginning of spring.”
As for modern Groundhog Day? Back to History.com: “On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.”
You can read more about the history and traditions of our modern Groundhog Day observations here.
Thanks to the Bill Murray film, for many of us, Groundhog Day has become synonymous with breaking patterns and reconsidering old beliefs. What are you willing to let go of this year on Imbolc, and what will you retain? Will your shadow send you back into a hole, or will you brave the light?
Personally, I’m more inclined to head back to bed on a cloudy day, so I’ll take Groundhog Day predictions with a grain of salt. Regardless of the weather on February 2, spring isn’t far behind.
Cover photo by Steve Wrzeszczynski on Unsplash