Halfway through winter

Chicken looks for shadow

It’s Groundhog Day. One of my chickens looks for her shadow.

Punxsutawny Phil, the fat furry weather-prognosticating rodent down south in Pennsylvania, says “early spring!” (Great photos HERE.) But I note that “early spring” in coastal New Hampshire is never really “early” by any spring craver’s definition. Spring procrastinates. Winter endures. Daffodils bloom in early April and tree leaves do not emerge until late April or early May.

But astronomically we are halfway through winter today.

…the division of the year into segments is common to many cultures. Our ancestors were more aware of the sun’s movements across the sky than we are, since their plantings and harvests depended on it.

February 2, the winter halfway point, is an observation, a celebration, a holiday with other names too, like Imbolc, St. Brighid’s DayCandlemas, the Day of the Bear, and Badger Day.

The celebration of Groundhog Day came to America along with immigrants from Great Britain and Germany. The tradition can be traced to early Christians in Europe, when a hedgehog was said to look for his shadow on Candlemas Day.

Try this old English rhyme: “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight. But if it be dark with clouds and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.”

Or here’s another old saying: “Half your wood and half your hay, you should have on Candlemas Day.”

Patience, you should also have.

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  1. Pingback: Winter comfort: food | amy kane blog

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