Happy Groundhog Day. Spring can’t be far behind, even though you might not know it with today’s weather. It’s bitterly cold. The ground is frozen and icy; we’re expecting snow any time. And Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog, has seen his shadow both here on the island and where he lives in Pennsylvania too, so predictions are for six more weeks of winter.
The annual ritual, which goes back to 1887, comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow and sees its shadow, it will retreat back to its den for another six weeks of winter. And if it can’t see its shadow because of clouds, spring will arrive early.
Today isn’t only meant for groundhogs! February 2nd falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, making the date significant in a number of cultures. The Celts celebrated it as Imbolc, a pagan festival that marked the beginning of spring. Imbolc evolved into the Christian tradition of Candlemas. In certain parts of Europe, Christians believed that a sunny Candlemas meant another 40 days of cold and snow. Our North American version of Groundhog Day developed from that.
Wherever you live, and whatever the weather where you are, enjoy your day and watch for signs of spring. In my garden, the daffodils have broken ground, and the green shoots are up. The flowers can’t be far behind!