Sunday, January 31, 2010

“If Hope Had a Scent, It Would Be the Smell of the Air on a Warm February Day.”

january 31 001

More than any other holiday, Groundhog Day is the "looking-ahead" holiday, a holiday of transition.

“We're not so much celebrating the day at hand, February 2, as we are a day that is on our horizon, the spring equinox. The spring equinox is simply being celebrated ahead of time, as Groundhog Day, on February 2. Asking us to bottle up our hopes until three weeks in March have passed would be unreasonable, don't you think?”

“…Let's explore the origin of Groundhog Day by taking a look at Imbolc, Saint Brigid's Day and Candlemas Day.

“In its earliest incarnation, Groundhog Day was Imbolc, a pagan celebration associated with fertility and weather divination.

“The word, Imbolc is Gaelic, the language of the Celts. There is a strong association between Imbolc and Brigid, a Celtic fertility goddess. When the pagan holidays were transformed into Catholic equivalents, two new holidays emerged from Imbolc. One, Saint Brigid's Day (a.k.a. Saint Bridget's Day), was celebrated on February 1. Saint Brigid's Day honored an Irish saint, named after the Celtic goddess, who was a contemporary of Saint Patrick's.

“The second holiday deriving from Imbolc was Candlemas Day and was celebrated on February 2 (Groundhog Day). Candlemas was the feast of Mary's purification and was marked by a candle procession.

“But how did a groundhog become the symbol for a holiday that was marked by a candle procession?

“Well, the Romans, for instance, had celebrated a rough equivalent to our Groundhog Day in early February -- only a hedgehog was in charge of the weather divination, not a groundhog. And such beliefs survived the Christianization of Europe (going "underground," if you will), attaching themselves to Candlemas Day as folklore. European settlers in North America kept the pagan tradition alive, but substituted the native groundhog for the European hedgehog. Clearly, Imbolc and the older traditions have won out: today in North America, almost everyone in the general public has heard of "Groundhog Day," while mention of "Candlemas Day" would generally draw expressions of puzzlement!

“Most people have now distanced themselves from fertility rites, purification rituals and weather divination (well, except for meteorologists, perhaps!). Nonetheless, on some level, don't we still intuitively associate fertility and purification with spring? Nor can we help but spend our winters speculating on spring's arrival.”

“If hope had a scent, it would be the smell in the air on a warm February day.

this post was excerpted from an article by David Beaulieu on Groundhog Day on About.com, here

sallymandy

 

15 comments:

PurestGreen said...

That last quote was just what I needed today -thanks.

Protege said...

This was really interesting read, as I have always wondered about he history of this amusing tradition.;) Here they say that if it is very windy in the 2nd of February, or as they say: "If seven witches can not hold the eighth at the ground", it means spring will arrive early. If it is very wind still, winter will continue for a while.;)) Unfortunately, I think this year, the later will be the case.;)
xoxo
Zuzana

Deborah said...

Well, I learned a lot from this! Thanks for an entertaining and informative post, Sallymandy. I think I'll shoot off a quick email to my Irish friend Brid (short for Brigid) whose saint's day I would not otherwise have known it was!

Poetikat said...

Hi Sallymandy! So nice to see you over at Keepsakes.
I've been meaning to pop over because I really wanted to put something in my sidebar to publicize your shop. I love what you're doing and hope at some point to order from you (although at the minute, money's pretty tight).
In the meantime, I know that many of my visitors would just love the sorts of things you're putting together. Would you be okay with this? I can capture your etsy box and link to your studio.

Kat

P.S. Tomorrow I will be re-publishing my poem about Wiarton Willie, the southern Ontario groundhog who is as famous as Punxatawney Phil. Come by and see.

hjmart said...

Great post! I totally agree that we intuitively associate love (also fertility and purification) with spring. Great blog as well! I am following! :-) Helen

Duchesse said...

Here in s/w Ontario Feb. doesn't yield a harbinger of spring; it's still fully winter. And so be it, let the season have its time and depth. I once got married in Feb. to have something to celebrate about the month, but it didn't last. (Well there is Valentine's Day and a much better partner now!)

Lily said...

Neat post! You learn something new every day, lol. I sure like that quote as well. February is full of hope for me too, as it ushers in the newness and warmth of spring. Great blog; I am following. :)

BuddhaPublicist said...

I love the picture of your dog--the composition of it, the dog's pose, it just makes me feel relaxed.

I hate Groundhog Day because it's ALWAYS six more weeks of winter. Why taunt us with the possibility of any other outcome?

Jennifer

soodie :: said...

i love your westie!

(see my Soodie & Scout Report blog, only if you want, story about a westie....)

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