The Spring Equinox marks the passage of winter to spring, which is still six weeks away whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not. According to European legend if the groundhog sees his shadow he goes back into his cave for six weeks. If he does not see his shadow he will stay outside and there will be an early return of spring weather.
Groundhogs hibernate by building winter homes and burrowing in for three- six months depending on the climate outside. It follows they would wake up when the weather is beginning the turn toward spring. What always confused me is the sun vs. cloud cover thing. So if he finds warm sun he goes inside. If there is no sun and it is colder he stays outside? Right!
Being a research geek I went on an internet search about all things groundhog and divining weather. David Beaulieu’s theory* regarding a desire to celebrate our anticipation of spring makes the most sense to me. The origin of Candlemas, a Catholic holiday on February 2, is found in Celtic pagan rituals celebrating “fertility and weather divination.”* February comes from the Latin Februa, meaning “expiatory offerings”. The month of purification for the earth’s annual re-awakening.
Groundhog Day is a celebration in our life cycle. Life is all about cycle. Birth ….. Growth… Maturity…. Dying…. Death….. There are cycles within cycles. Start school, attend school and graduate from school. Start new job, complete job and move onto another job. Birth children, raise children, send children out into world. Celebrating our cycles has a rythmic beat. Birthday, family and holiday celebrations mark passage of our time. Celebrating Groundhog Day makes sense to me now.
Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today…..……
*Groundhog Day: Transition to the Spring Equinox
By David Beaulieu, About.com Guide
©2011 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved