February second is Groundhog Day, a day that's a mystery to people outside North America. Even in the USA and Canada, it's more a bit of fun than a holiday. Yet however superficial it is now, it's the offshoot of traditions that began in Europe thousands of years ago.

The Celtic year began halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, i.e. the first of February on the Gregorian calendar. It was a major holiday as it celebrated the lengthening of the days and the beginning of new growth. In Ireland, it was called Imbolc and the goddess Brigid was part of the renewal that came with spring.

Brigid was the old Celtic goddess that was adopted as a Christian Saint. Her day is on February 1st. Candlemas is celebrated on February 2nd. Snowdrops appear around this time, and one name for them is candlemas bells.

Groundhog Day

Mona Evans
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