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Groundhog Day

Happy February!

It’s Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil has given us his forecast for an early spring for 2016. There were celebratory cries in Pennsylvania from the crowd when this favored prediction was announced in poetry this morning.

The daffodils in my yard would agree, since they are half out of the ground. And one of the forsythia bushes has one, bright, yellow bloom. New growth on bushes and blooms on some of our neighborhood trees also are in agreement.

This animal oracle was officially named in 1887by a group of groundhog hunters, and next year this prognosticator will celebrate 129 years of hits-and-misses.

Believe it or not, Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day. The clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for the winter. These candles were always long, and many, because expectations were clear for a cold winter.

This Christian holiday is celebrated annually, mainly in Catholic and Church of England congregations, on February 2. It celebrates three occasions: the presentation of the child Jesus, Jesus’ first entry into the temple, and the Virgin Mary’s purification. There is emphasis on Jesus being the light of the world, and so the candles become important.

Germans pushed this thought a bit further by selecting a hedgehog for predicting the weather. When German settlers came to America, they continued the tradition, except they switched to the groundhog predictions, which were more plentiful here.

Anne Lamott said, “I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, the lights with which spring teases us, the light that is already present.”

It is time to light some candles to chase away the shadows on this cloudy, rainy day. What about you?

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