I'm interrupting my tour of Hwy 26 here to remind you that the first weekend of February has always been celebrated as the seasonal turning point toward the imminent coming of spring. Even in ancient times, 5000 years ago there is evidence that the peoples of the northern hemisphere celebrated this time of year.
It's about the mid-point between the solstice and the equinox, just like the other three great Celtic seasonal festivals mirror these mid-points. Have you noticed the days getting longer? Days are noticeably longer and also they're brighter at mid-day here. That's just the most obvious sign that spring is around the corner.
'Imbolc', also known as St. Brigid's Day, is the first of these four great seasonal festivals, normally celebrated on Feb. 1st. It's been associated with the beginning of lambing season and the beginning of early spring sowing. (That date certainly wouldn't work here in southern Ontario, but it did in Ireland and Scotland).
The date is thought to be ancient because the passages in some of the greatest neolithic burial tombs in Ireland and Scotland, such as the Mound of the Hostages and Maeshowe, are aligned with the sunrise on this date.
Candlemas, a Holy Day in the Christian calendar, is celebrated on Feb. 2nd, and often associated with Imbolc. In fact Imbolc is often translated as Candlemas.
If you prefer a modern, secular event, Groundhog Day is also on Feb. 2nd. This is close to home because Wiarton Willie is the best known Canadian groundhog prognosicator, and of course is claimed by locals hereabouts to be more accurate than Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania.
So whatever your choice, take a moment and celebrate the fact that spring WILL eventually arrive!