04 February 2013

Candlemas and Groundhogs

2 February is Candlemas day, the midpoint of winter, half way between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. Also known as Groundhog Day in the USA but regardless of continent it is phenologically important because according to folklore this is the day when you can determine whether spring is round the corner.  In the UK the old saying is:
"If Candlemas day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight.
But if Candlemas day be dull and drear, winter is gone for another year."   
The Scots are slightly more pedantic, saying that if it's bright and clear,  there will be two more winters in the year, no mention of dull or overcast weather.

This resonates with the groundhog reactions, it's said that if Punxsutawney Phil* (that's the groundhog) comes out of his burrow and is scared back in by the sight of his shadow (in other words it's bright and sunny) spring is far away but if he comes out and there is no shadow (it's dull and overcast) then it heralds an early spring.

So what about 2013?
Here in Yorkshire there was snow on the ground and it was bright, so it looks like more winter is on it's way - which looking at today's weather forecast seems reasonably certain.
But in Pennsylvania, no shadow so according to Phil America is having an early spring.         

*there are other groundhogs but Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous.