Updated: 2/2/2017

 

Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
present


Cartoon Fun
And


(aka Candlemas or Candelaria)

 

 

 

Groundhog Day is February 2nd.  This holiday isn't just about shadows and winter weather predictions, as most of us believe.  This  observance, also known as Candlemas goes way back in history to biblical times.

The Law of Moses stated that parents were obligated to bring their first born son to the church and make an offering to God on his behalf. This took place (usually) after the baby was 40 days old. This is based on the biblical teaching that Mary also presented Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem following his 40-day period of purification after he was born.  So, Jesus was born on December 25, add 40 days and you get February 2nd!

When Jesus was presented, an old, devout Jew named Simon,  held the baby in his arms and said that He would be, "A light to lighten the Gentiles." (Luke 2:32)  This is how February 2nd became known as Candlemas (or Candelaria); and, since the 11th Century with the blessing of candles.

It is also called the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, in the Eastern church. But, it's called the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Western church.  No matter what it's called, the celebrations both have the same format and are significant for the blessing of candles and candlelight processions.

There are those, however, who feel that forming a procession with candles really originates back to the Romans  who had a custom of going around the city in February with a candle procession. (see more below) So the candle procession  wasn't created by Christians at all.  But when the Christians attempted to Christianize the Romans, they borrowed this custom of using candles in religious services.  So, in 494 C.E. Pope Gelasious I created the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary.  Ironically, it was also used to kindle a "brand" left over from the Yule log at Christmas.

As I mentioned above, the Romans had a tradition known as Lupercalia, which took place on February 15 to honor the corn goddess Ceres and her daughter Proserpine (who was carried to the underworld by Pluto). This observance called for a torchlight parade, to represent Ceres' attempt to search for her daughter all over Sicily. Torches were lighted from the flames of Mount Aetna at night so she could continue searching. So, this is where some scholars feel the candlelight processions of Candlemas originate from.

Traditionally, candles and lamps are a symbol of rejoicing.  Candlemas in the Middle Ages was the day in which the church blessed candles for the entire year.  (Remember, there was no electricity.  Candles were necessary for lighting your home in the dark of winter.)  During this blessing, a procession of worshippers would hold candles in their hands. It was believed that wherever these candles were then used, they would chase away the devil. The unused candle stubs were saved because they were believed to be good luck charms.

Today, in many Roman Catholic countries, the candles that are blessed on Candlemas are believed to have special powers, often being lighted during storms, illness, christenings, funerals etc.  In Sicily they are brought out when there is an earthquake or when someone is dying.

The candles that are "purified" or blessed on February 2 by the church are also used to bless people's throats on St. Blaise's Day (February 3) to protect them from colds and getting fish bones stuck in their throats.

So what does all this blessing of candles have to do with groundhogs and shadows you ask?

There was a medieval superstition that all hibernating animals (not just the groundhog) came out of their caves and dens on Candlemas to check on the weather.  If they could see their shadow, it meant that winter would go on for another 6 weeks (and they could go back to sleep.)  A cloudy day meant that spring was just around the corner. 

In England, France and Canada, the farmers used to watch for the stirring of the "Candlemas Bear" as a sign that springtime was coming.  In Ireland, it was the hedgehog. In German it was the badger.  The return of hibernating animals meant nature was giving them a sign. A change in seasons was being announced!  And, anyone whose livelihood or survival depended depended on the changing of seasons paid very close attention to all signs.

The early German settlers, known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, brought this custom to the United States.  They chose the groundhog as their hibernating animal to watch as a sign of spring. Another name for the groundhog is woodchuck (Marmota monax). It's a member of the squirrel family.  Groundhogs that live in the wild eat succulent green plants, such as dandelion, clover, and grasses. Those that are pampered, like Punxsutanwney Phil, eat goodies like dog food and ice cream.  (More on him later!)

So why February 2?  This is because it's at the half-way mark between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.

But, good weather meant a prolonged winter and a cloudy day meant an early spring.  The tradition rooted in America and gave rise to the legend of Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog in Pennsylvania believed to be a century old.

 

This is located in Pennsylvania.  Let's go back to 1793  when the Delaware Indians settled in this area.  The name Punxsutawney in Indian means "town of sandflies." The name woodchuck is also derived from the Indian name "Wojak" which was a groundhog and believed to be their ancestral grandfather.

There is a club in Punxsutawney where the members hike up to Phil's burrow  up on Gobbler's Knob, on February 2 and wait for him to emerge. Phil lives in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump in a stage area.   Phil's a chubby little groundhog, averaging 15 lbs.  Why did they name the groundhog Phil?  According to Groundhog.org , he was named after King Philip.  Before that, he was called Br'er Groundhog.

Some of you may wonder what Phil does when it's not February 2. He gets around! Of course he always supports his area sports teams. But, he's  also made an appearance on the Oprah Show (1995); met President Ronald Reagan (1986); and, even gone a bit political  by wearing a yellow ribbon in support of the American hostages in Iran (1981).  Phil went high-tech when in  1996 he got his first website and in 1998 his forecast was sent live over the internet.

Phil is loved so much, that after September 11, 2001, troops were assigned to guard him on February 2, 2002.

So is Phil very accurate? Professional weather researchers have determined that the groundhog has been correct only 28% of the time.  How has Phil's predictions gone over the years? In 1887 he saw his first shadow according to the records. And then...

1888
Shadow

1889
?

1890
No Shadow

1891
?

1892
?

1893
?

1894
?

1895
?

1896
?

1897
?

1898
Shadow

1899
?

1900
Shadow

1901
Shadow

1902
No Shadow

1903
Shadow

1904
Shadow

1905
Shadow

1906
Shadow

1907
Shadow

1908
Shadow

1909
Shadow

1910
Shadow

1911
Shadow

1912
Shadow

1913
Shadow

1914
Shadow

1915
Shadow

1916
Shadow

1917
Shadow

1918
Shadow

1919
Shadow

1920
Shadow

1921
Shadow

1922
Shadow

1923
Shadow

1924
Shadow

1925
Shadow

1926
Shadow

1927
Shadow

1928
Shadow

1929
Shadow

1930
Shadow

1931
Shadow

1932
Shadow

1933
Shadow

1934
No Shadow

1935-36
Shadow

1937
Shadow

1938
Shadow

1939
Shadow

1940
Shadow

1941
Shadow

1942
Partial Shadow

1943
No Groundhog

1944
Shadow

1945
Shadow

1946
Shadow

1947
Shadow

1948
Shadow

1949
Shadow

1950
No Shadow

1951
Shadow

1952
Shadow

1953
Shadow

1954
Shadow

1955
Shadow

1956
Shadow

1957
Shadow

1958
Shadow

1959
Shadow

1960
Shadow

1961
Shadow

1962
Shadow

1963
Shadow

1964
Shadow

1965
Shadow

1966
Shadow

1967
Shadow

1968
Shadow

1969
Shadow

1970
No Shadow

1971
Shadow

1972
Shadow

1973
Shadow

1974
Shadow

1975
No Shadow

1976
Shadow

1977
Shadow

1978
Shadow

1979
Shadow

1980
Shadow

1981
Shadow

1982
Shadow

1983
No Shadow

1984
Shadow

1985
Shadow

1986
No Shadow

1987
Shadow

1988
No Shadow

1989
Shadow

1990
No Shadow

1991
Shadow

1992
Shadow

1993
Shadow

1994
Shadow

1995
No Shadow

1996
Shadow

1997
No Shadow

1998
Shadow

1999
No Shadow

2000
Shadow

2001
Shadow

2002
Shadow

2003
Shadow

2004
Shadow

2005
Shadow

2006
Shadow

2007
No Shadow

2008
 Shadow

2009
 Shadow

2010
 Shadow

2011
 No Shadow

2012
 Shadow

2013
 No Shadow

2014
  Shadow

2015
   Shadow

2016
  No Shadow

2017
  Shadow

2018
 

2019
  

2020
   

2021
  

2022
 

2023
 

( The ? means there is no record.)
Note: The 1942 prediction was to purposely not give any favorable weather forecasts to our World War II enemies.

 

Some of you may feel that February 2nd is a bit early to expect springtime signs; but, remember that BEFORE the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, Candlemas fell on February 14th.  So, (some) farmers in Mississippi and Arkansas observed Groundhog Day on the 14th because it was closer to the arrival of springtime. 

Traditional English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

According to the traditional Scotchs:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be twa (two) winters in the year.

Another  Scottish rhyme:

If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter to come and mair,
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half of winter's gone at Yule.

The Germans chanted:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.

 


"Groundhog's Day" Movie 1993
 produced and written by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis

Back in 1886, The Punxsutawney Spirit (newspaper) is credited with printing the first Groundhog Day observance, a year before the legendary trek up to Gobbler's Knob.  The popularity grows each year. But ever since the movie, "Groundhog's Day" with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, thousands of visitors from all over the world come to await Phil's appearance with crowds being as great as over 30,000 in number.

 

Here are some additional cartoons relating to Ground Hogs Day that
I thought were very funny:

 

This one is from B.C.

 

This one is from The Wizard of Id.

These are  from Off The Mark.

 

 

Partial Source of Information:
"Holidays, Symbols & Customs  3rd Edition"
By Sue Ellen Thompson
Omnigraphics, Inc. © 2003

 

 

 

Return to our Holidays page.

All graphics on this site (still and animated) have our embedded watermark. They are not public domain!

All contents (Graphics and Text) are covered by U.S. Copyright Laws. No reproduction of any kind, downloading, copy, paste, save, etc. is allowed. All rights reserved!

digimarc icon


Like Brownielocks on Facebook Facebook logo

Thanks for Visiting. We love you!      Brownielocks store link image
 
Brownielocks' Holidays & Fun For Everyone!  © 1999-2017