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.