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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ground Hog's Day prediction

What will Paxsatucky Phil predict for us this year? Six more weeks of winter? Or an early spring? Does anyone know the accuracy of Phil's predictions? Is this a mere formality that we go through or is there something to this Ground Hog's Day?

Well a little bit of research turns up that there is certainly a history to the mythology behind watching a ground hog wake and look for his shadow. There was a belief that the Divine Hag came out looking for firewood on Imbolc (February 1) to last her for the rest of winter. If winter was scheduled to be long, she would make sure this day was nice weather to allow her to gather extra wood.

The logic sounds very similar to the groundhog prediction.

Imbolc itself is referred to as a Cross-quarter day by Wiccans and early pagans. That means it is the day that is half way between a solstice and an equinox, and is therefore one of the eight spokes of the Wheel of the Year.

Christianity adopted this holiday when it converted Europe and renamed it St. Brigit's Day. [My chosen Confirmation saint, FYI.] And celebrates Candlemas the day after.

Many Christian purists I know oppose this custom of adopting and renaming of celebrations outside the church, but I love the idea. {It seems to me like renaming a river. It recognizes and respects that the river is there. Rather than trying to fill in the river and build a straight canal to do the same purpose of transporting the water.}

The fact that the holiday has been renamed Ground Hog's Day and the old St. Brigit's Day and Candlemas names are virtually forgotten in popular culture is evidence to me that secularization is the new religion on the block and it has claimed a previous holiday from us. I find it somewhat comforting that it harkens back to the old Imbolc/Divine Hag's prediction belief, with the divine hag being demoted to ground hog. The harkening back brings me comfort. A resurfacing of old beliefs is better than a monetizing and commercializing of it that we see happening with Valentine's Day.

How do you feel about holidays drifting from one religion to another? What about the monetizing and commercializing of holidays?

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