Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Groundhog Day

While folks in Pennsylvania have their Punxsutawney Phil, we in North Carolina have our Sir Walter Wally. Every year on this day, Wally makes his appearance at the NC Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh, NC, our state capitol.

40 days after Christmas, the second day of February marks the halfway point between the first day of winter (Solstice) and the first day of spring. (Equinox) Tradition holds that if this day is cloudy, spring will soon be here, and if this day is sunny, winter will prevail for another 6 weeks.

Some consider Groundhog Day an American holiday, but it didn't start here. In the Old World it is the European hedgehog who comes out of hibernation on this day to check on the weather. Being a small animal with his head close to the ground, he can't look up to see the sky, so he looks for his shadow on the ground to see if it's sunny or cloudy. German immigrants in Pennsylvania , finding there are no hedgehogs here, decided the American groundhog would make a suitable substitute.

February 2nd is observed as Candlemas in other parts of the world, and before Christian times it was called Imbolc. It is a time of celebration for the lengthening of days, and the new plants that appear when the snow is gone, a sign of new life.


Anonymous said...

My 2010 calender marks Dia de la Candelaria(mx) on Feb 2nd. Bill you never fail to enlighten me.!

Bill Widman said...

Aw shucks!
Just glad to help!

I've always been interested in the origins of holidays, and how they are observed in diffferent countries. (Can you tell?)

There are those who have complained that I'm getting off the subject when I mention the holidays as they come around. Is a blog supposed to be about only one subject? Do we not display holiday decor at the office or workplace, as well as at home?

Somer Thompson's story got in the way of my mentioning Valentine's Day this year, and I thought that story was more important. (Not that Valentine's Day isn't important.)