Groundhog Day , St Brigid's Day, Candlemas Three Special Days


Thursday, February 2nd is Groundhog Day. 

Spring is normally seven weeks after Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the USA. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time.

It is the day that the groggy Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow. If he sees it, the furry forecaster regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. 



If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of an early spring and moderate weather and stays above ground.  

Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania is the most famous of the groundhogs where crowds of over 40,000 can gather on February 2nd to find out if spring will come early. He even has an official website here

Groundhog Day as we know it began around 1887 in Punxsutawney, but its roots go back hundreds and even thousands of years. 
 
The holiday has origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc:  Click here for link  which was held Feb. 1, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Imbolc was a festival for the coming spring.

  

Happy St Brigid's Day !!



As Christianity swept through the British Isles, 5th century missionaries incorporated Brigid, the Celtic goddess of Imbolc, into St. Brigid of Kildare, one of three patron saints of Ireland, along with Patrick and Columba.
Imbolc was later replaced with Candlemas, a feast dedicated to St. Brigid that took place every year on Feb. 2.




The heritage of St Brigid's cross extends to the Neolithic Age when it symbolized the four seasons.
It is often hung over Irish doorways to protect home and hearth. 
It is also related to the symbol of the "turning wheel" which symbolized the movement of the sun and is a design seen on Celtic crosses.

These are two songs to St Brigid. Lyrics below :

Blessed Woman come to me
Woman of the Fires,
Woman of Poetry
Blessed Woman come to me
woman of Healing,
Woman of Skillful Means

Blessed woman of the land
Guide my heart and guide my hand
Blessed Woman of the streams
Guide my soul and guide my dreams
Blessed Woman come to me
Woman of the fires
Woman of Poetry,

Blessed Woman come to me
Woman of Healing
Woman of Skillful Means.
Blessed Woman of the hills
Heal all wounds and heal all ills
Blessed Woman of the flame
Awaken me to renew again.







Lyrics to the second one

Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
Bless this house, and all of our kin
Protect this house and all within

Blessed Bridget come into thy bed
With a gem at thy heart and a crown on thy head
Awaken the fire within our souls
Awaken the fire that makes us whole

Blessed Bridget, queen of the fire
Help us to manifest our desire
May we bring forth all thats good and fine
May we give birth to our dreams in time

Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
From the source of Infinite Light
Kindle the flame of our spirits tonight

Blessed Bridget come into thy bed
With a gem at thy heart and a crown on thy head
Awaken the fire within our souls
Awaken the fire that makes us whole

Blessed Bridget, queen of the fire
Help us to manifest our desire
May we bring forth all thats good and fine
May we give birth to our dreams in time

Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
From the source of Infinite Light
Kindle the flame of our spirits tonight










St. Brigid became a monastic and established the first women's cenobitic monastery of Ireland on land that was given to her by the King of Leinster.  The land was called Cill Dara or Kildare, meaning "the church of the oak." 

Her scroll reads:

"To care for the poor;
To lighten everyone's burden; 
To comfort the suffering."
There are some fantastical tales about St Brigid but I rather like
that one tradition says she was ordained a priest and another claims she was a bishop.

She was known to travel the countryside, blessing households as she went ... accompanied by a white cow with red ears.Traditionally, farm animals would be especially well taken care of on Saint Brigid’s Day. There you go – if you don’t own a farm, give your companion animal a special treat.  

According to one old British saying, "If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year." but a cloudy, shadow-free day suggested spring had sprung. 

That may explain the origin of Groundhog Day in general, but it offers few clues on how groundhogs got involved. For that, we can thank 19th-century German immigrants and a creative city editor at the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper.




Germans who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1800s brought many customs from home, including an old practice of predicting the end of winter based on bears' and badgers' hibernation habits. 
Some Germans may have switched to groundhogs when they arrived in America, but the new tradition didn't really take off until the late 1880s, when a group of local groundhog hunters caught the attention of Punxsutawney Spirit city editor Clymer H. Freas.

punxsutawney phil
Freas reported on the men's groundhog hunts and barbecues, touting them as members of "the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." He became so enthralled by local groundhog folklore that he went on to promote Punxsutawney as home to a weather-predicting groundhog, a story he then continued to repeat and embellish year after year. Other newspapers began reporting it, too, and Punxsutawney soon became ground zero for groundhog meteorology, as well as the hometown of world-renowned forecaster "Punxsutawney Phil" (pictured at right).

The rise of Punxsutawney Phil has also inspired an array of other forecasting groundhogs across the United States and Canada, including Gen. Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh and Wiarton Willie in Ontario.
Although there could be some truth to the link between clear weather on Feb. 2 and a longer winter — since sunny days in winter are often caused by cold, dry air masses, and cloudy days tend to result from moist, mild ocean air — the National Climatic Data Center points out that groundhogs are hardly reliable meteorologists. An NCDC analysis shows Punxsutawney Phil's winter predictions only held up 39 percent of the time from 1988 to 2005, and a study of Canada's 13 major weather-forecasting groundhogs found their success rate was about 37 percent over 30 to 40 years.
It's worth noting that wild groundhogs in North America often hibernate into late February and March — suggesting they may know winter isn't over without even stepping outside on Groundhog Day.

This poem was proclaimed on Groundhog Day which is also Candlemas this year, (40 days after Christmas) and also this year the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. 
The priest blesses candles that will be used throughout the liturgical year during Mass on this day. 


As the light grows longer
The cold grows stronger
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight

If Candlemas be cloud and rain
Winter will be gone and not come again

2 comments:

claire said...

A blessed St Bridgid's day to you, Phil.
I love your "I am truly blessed" sticker.
love, claire

Philomena Ewing said...

Thanks Claire. Don't know if you celebrate Groundhog or Candlemas where you are but if you do have a great day ! I had almost forgotten that blessed sticker was there - yes, I should pay attention to it more !!
Blessings