|Groundhog Day (Photo by Aaron Silvers)|
Caught between two calendar traditions, the beginning of February can be a confusing time.
On the one hand, the Christianity-rooted Gregorian calendar says that we're still in the midst of winter. On the other hand, the Earth-based Celtic calendar says that it's time to celebrate spring.
According to Wikipedia, today's Neopagan traditions follow a loosely-based medieval Celtic calendar that celebrates "the four
Gaelic festivals of Samhain (November 1, winter begins), Imbolc (February 1, spring begins), Beltane (May 1, summer begins), and Lughnasadh (August 1, autumn begins).
In this ancient system, the solstices mark the mid-seasons rather than the seasons' beginnings. Shakespeare's "Midsummer" would have therefore occurred on June 21st, rather than during July or August. Groundhog Day (along with Imbolc and St. Brigit's Day) would have marked the beginning of spring.
All of this confusion – spring, not spring/winter, not winter – might have led to some intense bickering along the way. Therefore, an arbiter of some sort was needed. No human in his or her right mind would have
wanted that kind of responsibility. It took a gutsy little groundhog to begin settling the matter centuries ago.
That groundhog was Punxsutawney Phil. He and all of his similarly-named descendants have been burrowing their way to fame ever since.
Copyright February 3, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved