The Real Slim Shadow
Trinity Walker Staff Reporter
Trinity Walker Staff Reporter

  Groundhog Day has come and gone once more, and unfortunately for us, it leaves more winter in its wake (Then again, this is Mobile. Winter for us is a day that never gets warmer than sixty.  We’ll be at the beach in no time.)

    However, this past holiday motivated me to discover why Groundhog Day even exists.  The answer was intriguing.  The obscure tradition of Groundhog Day stemmed from Candlemas, an earlier form of European Christmas.  There are various English songs indicating the significance of the weather on Candlemas Day.  

    “If Candlemas be fair and bright,

    Come, Winter, have another flight;

    If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

    Go Winter, and come not again.”

    According to Roman belief (as they were the ones who originally spread the tradition of Candlemas), if Candlemas Day was sunny, then the hedgehog would cast its shadow, thus signaling six more weeks of harsh winter weather.  Eventually, this tradition found its way to Germany, and from there, to Pennsylvania, as some of Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers were German.  

    In this new environment, Germans found not hedgehogs, but groundhogs.  It was at this point that New England farmers then decided to hold the holiday on the second of February.  This is the day that was usually considered by farmers to be the heart of winter, and from then on, became the holiday we are familiar with today.

    So next time Groundhog Day rolls around, consider how it was once a very crucial holiday to our ancestors, and, of course, be happy that you live in Mobile where true winter days are few and far between.

Image result for candlemas and groundhog day

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