Groundhog Day, Candlemas or Cross Quarter Day

  • Post published:02/02/2016
  • Post comments:6 Comments
February 2, 2016
February 2, 2016

February 2 is best known in the U.S. as Groundhog Day, the day Punxatawny Phil comes out of his burrow to see if he has a shadow and let us know if spring will be early. No shadow today! An early spring!  Of course, here in western Massachusetts we haven’t had much of a winter.  I have been worring that  winter will arrive in April but I will trust in Punxatawny Phil.

Candlemas is also a Christian holiday celebrating the presentation of the baby Jesus at the Temple 40 days after his birth, as decreed by Mosaic law. There he was recognized as the Messiah by Simeon and Anna. Traditionally the day has come to be the day that church candles for the year were blessed.

February 2 is also a cross quarter day. We are all familiar with the spring and  fall equinoxes when day and night are of equal length, about March 21, and September 21. We also know of the summer and winter solstices about June 21 and December 21, when we have the longest and shortest days. However at one time there was a system that named June 21 as Midsummer, which would mean summer arriving in May. We have a new system now.  Cross quarter days are evenly spaced between the fundamental Quarter Days of the Solstices and Equinoxes. The Cross-Quarter Days thus mark the middle of each season under our current system, or seasonal boundries under the old system.  If you read English novels as I do, you may occasionally run into mention of quarter days when characters’ annuities or other monies are paid, or when tenants on farms must pay their rents. You can learn a lot by reading English novels!

Here, at 10 am, with temperatures at 40 degrees and brilliant sun shining I am celebrating the day. I hope you all find a reason for celebrating this day.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Helen Opie

    The old New England rhyme I learnt was “February second, Groundhog Day; Half the wood and half the hay” meaning that is was the middle of the winter and these stores had to last for about as long as they had been used already. Furnace oil companies calculate mid winter as January 31st – easier for computerised billing, no doubt. One should have half one’s woodpile left.

  2. Pat

    Helen – We passed the Wolf Moon, but I suspect we are still in the hungriest part of the winter – or would be if it weren’t for all the supermarkets. We have hardly used any of our pellets.And we did NOT buy a ton. We are not sure we like the pellet stove, but it was in the house and we decided to give it a try.

  3. thesalemgarden

    So many things to celebrate today… no shadow, warm weather and great sun! Happy Groundhog Day/Cross Quarter Day/Candlemas!

  4. Helen Opie

    I have several friends who heat only with a pellet stove and they like it, only don’t like it when pellet supply dries up. My only objection to replacing my wood stove with one is that when the power goes out, so will a pellet stove. Perhaps they use so little electricity that the auger could be powered by a back-up battery, and a het-powered fan on it could blow the heat farther into the house.

    On another track; today is Imbolc, half way between winter solstice and spring equinox. The other cross-quarter days also have their names, which my be Druid or Anglo-Saxon. I note it is Feb 3 most years, but the 4th on leap years. Enough of my time on that – I should be doing seed inventory so I can get my seeds ordered.

  5. Helen Opie

    Fascinating: I’d always wondered how to pronounce Imbolc, and had no idea of its connection to ewe’s milk & lambing…notice they only talk about cow’s milk; probably think that is the only milk there is for human consumption. Thanks for doing the research and sharing it.

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