Saturday, February 1, 2020

Imbolc, Candlemas, and Groundhogs!

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!


  1. I've noticed my lemon trees responding to the growing light. They have many new sprigs along the tops.
    Cindy took us to visit with Wiarton Willie when we visited her last summer, but the lazy begger was too busy sleeping to come out and say hello.

  2. We have darker mornings already, and some days a little cooler, but not enough, we long for winter.

  3. It's always interesting to look back at what ancient people celebrated. They knew what was going on.

  4. Always fascinating to see how many Christian days of celebration were apparently adopted from earlier "pagan" religions.

  5. St. Brigid's Day, hmm, my daughter (Bridgette) would love to have HER own day of celebrations! :)
    Interesting and I will stick with Wiarton Willie and hope spring arrives early in your and our neck of the woods!!

  6. I was also reminded by another blogger that today is a very special palindrome: 02/02/2020

  7. I'll be contrarian and say that sixteen more weeks of winter would be welcome.

  8. Oh Happy Days for we folks looking forward to the coming of Spring. Wiarton Willie's prediction this morning February 2nd brought my spirits up by three full points.