Today is a “cross-quarter” day in the solar calendar, a term for the days that fall exactly between a solstice and an equinox. It means we’re halfway through winter, and Australia is halfway through summer.
In Christian tradition, February 2nd is Candlemas Day, or the Feast of the Presentation of Christ at the Temple, 40 days after Christmas. It is this Bible story that gives us the Nunc Dimittis, which is one of my favorite canticles. I always wondered why there’s no canticle for the Prophetess Anna, but that’s musing for another day.
Many cultures celebrate the cross-quarter days. For example, today is Imbolc, the Celtic celebration of Brigit, the goddess of fire, poetry, healing, and childbirth. Traditional rhymes about this cross-quarter are like this English saying:
If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
But if Candlemas day bring clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and won’t come again.
Other traditions concern the emergence of animals from their winter dens and omens that predict the season ahead. The German tradition of looking for a badger on this cross-quarter day morphed into our Groundhog Day (there being many more groundhogs than badgers in New England). I have no proof, but I suppose that’s because if the animals thought the weather was going to get warmer, they’d come out looking for food.
Does your family have any Groundhog Day traditions? Record them: write them down, make a video, interview an elder relative and record it, or leave them here as a comment!