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a blog by Chris Barrow

Go Winter and come not again

February 2nd is marked in the Christian calendar as Candlemas Day, on which the faithful would take their candles to church to have them blessed and ensure their safety for the rest of the winter.

In Germany, an added twist to the story - that if a hedgehog saw its shadow on this day - it would herald a further 6 weeks of winter weather.

Early German settlers to North America couldn't find any hedgehogs and so adopted an indigenous and similar mammal to celebrate their Candlemas - the groundhog.

If the groundhog emerges from his hibernation, takes one look at the sky and returns to his hole - 6 more weeks of winter.

And so we have it - today actually IS groundhog day - on which the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania would normally welcome thousands of tourists, who would trek to Gobbler's Knob (I kid you not) in the dark to await the dawn and see the predictions for the coming weeks from Phil - a groundhog regarded as the local Seer.

A tradition that started in 1886, although little could they have realised that their mascot would become even more famous after the 1993 Bill Murray movie about history repeating itself on a daily basis.

Equally, the film's makers could not have foreseen that their title and theme would have become synonymous with the experience we have had all had since March 2020, of living the same day, over and over again.

So I'm going to take a moment, today, to celebrate our collective fortitude in just coping with the last 11 months.

This year's Groundhog ceremony in the USA will take place online, for obvious reasons. Let's hope that Punxsutawney Phil predicts a better future for us all - and that he appears, looks at the sky and stays above ground - thus welcoming an early Spring.

Have a nice day - again.

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

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