For centuries people have tried to predict when Spring would arrive. In the 1600’s people gathered to have candles blessed at the church in a ceremony call Candlemas held February 1. Considering the only light people had was candles and light symbolized hope and life. In 1678 a poem was written by John Ray capturing the belief and hope of the era on when spring would arrive.
If Candlemas day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight
If on Candlemas day it be shower and rain
Winter is gone and will not come again.”
Today, February 2 we await the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who if he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. If Punxsutawney Phil does not see his shadow, spring is on its way. This tradition was brought to America by the Dutch Germans who immigrated to Pennsylvania. The tradition began in the 1800’s and they used a groundhog instead of a badger to predict the arrival of spring. In Europe a badger was used at the predictor of spring on the second day of February. Today, the second day of February is an American holiday named Groundhog Day.
These myths or folklore were started when agriculture was the main industry everywhere. The importance of getting seed into the ground and starting towards a harvest were key to survival. Not only did agriculture provide income for the farmer, but was the food for the community. There were no grocery stores, therefore the survival of an area depended on the farmers and their ability to grow and harvest the food for winter.
Today, we enjoy the traditions of long ago. Our society has changed, but farmers are still needed to plant the seed and provide the harvest that eventually is set on our dinning room tables to eat. A farmer still would like to know when spring will arrive in order to get the seed in the ground.
According to CNN, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow. We will have six more weeks of winter. According to the Candlemas poem, my area will have spring soon, as we have received snow and freezing rain with no sign of the sun.