If we dig deep, it's all linked to the symbol of the mother, of birth
February 2, 2024 1:13 AM   Subscribe

Every year, on 2 February, Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog comes out of his burrow and if the sun is shining and he sees his shadow before scurrying back into his hole, winter will last six more weeks. But if the day is cloudy, spring will come early. Curiously, Phil is not alone. A couple of other creatures do the same job across the Atlantic – and in all instances, it is a sunny day that will herald an ironic extended winter. from Groundhog Day's European creature parallels - and surprising 3000-year-old origins [BBC] posted by chavenet (23 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting, thanks. Here in Wisconsin, which I used to think of as the land of the five-month winter, I think we’ve only squeaked out about three weeks of it so far this year. Mushy ice and taking out the trash without a jacket. Only had call to wear my warm boots twice. It feels like Mother Nature has insomnia. Six more weeks would be a blessing.
posted by eirias at 2:29 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

Here, in Northern Europe with Atlantic climate, the prediction makes a lot of sense. If today was clear and bright, it would be frost and the winter would continue. One year I built a snow house during the Easter holidays in April.
But today is foggy and relatively warm, and everything is thawing. Even if a new cold front arrives, it probably won't be enough to re-freeze the lakes or the soil before March. We can have snow and ice after equinox, as my anecdote indicates, but there has to be a really long cold winter to achieve that.

I'm not sure it works that way in Pennsylvania, but the German immigrants obviously thought it might.
posted by mumimor at 3:41 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

hereabouts.ie Imbolc = Lá Fhéile Bríde (St Brigid of Kildare's Day) was yesterday. The BBC article talks up a Bridget / bear connexion but etymology suggests other emergent properties . . . i mbolg "in the belly" refers to the should-be-now-swelling bellies of the the sheep from which lambs are expected shortly OR leaking oimelc "ewe's milk", which was the gloss put on it by one medieval scribe. It's the beginning of Spring . . . IF the Cailleach (Holy Hag, to you Batman) sees that the weather is crap. If the weather is fine on the 1st of February, on the other hand, the Cailleach will be seen gathering sticks to heat her home because winter will last for several weeks more. Yesterday was gorgeous and bright from sunrise to sunset so I'm not planting out the beans yet.
posted by BobTheScientist at 3:44 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]

It is interesting that the date for these things seems to have fixed to 2 February, when the actual midpoint between the solstice and the equinox is closer to the 5th. Similarly, Halloween/Samhain fixing to October 31 when the midpoint is around November 5th. Which is Bonfire Night in the UK -- I have my suspicions about the real origins of "burning the Guy".
posted by Rhedyn at 4:43 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

Spring arrives the same time each year in upstate NY. May10-12 is when the leaves come out.
posted by DJZouke at 5:00 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Here in Wales the snowdrops are up in full force and the daffodils are starting to come up. And it's dark at 5:30pm instead of 4pm. And it's time to fluke dose the sheep.
posted by Rhedyn at 5:09 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

Melbourne version:

Some small animal: Winter will be short, then it’ll be warm for a bit, then cold, then warm - often on the same day and….

Other smaller animal: Yeah, duh.

Other even smaller animal: KIIIIILLLL THEM!!

…and then we get a reputation.
posted by pompomtom at 5:16 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

Well. In Toronto it's clear and bright and there's no snow on the ground and it's 1C. This is going to go down as the year without a Winter.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:29 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

I hope everyone has half their wood and half their hay on this fine candlemas day!

And don't let any groundhogs woodchucks chuck any of it!
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:57 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]

If today was clear and bright, it would be frost and the winter would continue.

It's definitely true in Canada. If the day is bright and shiny in January or February, that usually means it's freezing cold (maybe -15 or more) A cloudy day is more likely to be warm(er).

But this year it's all thing strangely warm. (Well, not so strangely - climate change has wrecked the climate.)
posted by jb at 7:41 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]

Here in Western Minnesota / Eastern North Dakota my dad and I yesterday lamented that neither of us have gotten to use our snowblowers this year at all! A string of days in the 40s earlier this week means all our snow is gone, down to mushy brown grass everywhere.

However, we're still pessimists: we can get blizzards all the way into April, so we haven't moved our snowblowers in the back of the garage just yet.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:47 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile, in Eastford, CT, we have Scramble the Duck predicting an early spring for 2024.
posted by stannate at 7:49 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

If we're going to put control of our weather into the (metaphorical) hands of woodland creatures, we deserve everything we get.
posted by Grangousier at 8:18 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Winters here (Rochester, NY) are now much like winters growing up on Long Island: cold, but not frigid, and more rain than snow. We get more winter weather in late February and into March than any other time. It just feels wrong.
posted by tommasz at 8:19 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

PETA says we should just flip a coin instead.
posted by dianeF at 9:35 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

god damn magnolias in front of the dance academy are starting to bloom this is bullshit
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:37 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]

A helfpul round-up of groundhog (and one lobster) predictions across Canada today.
posted by Kabanos at 10:02 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

posted by y2karl at 11:14 AM on February 2

Woke up to a light dusting of snow and clear blue sunny skies today in SE Alaska, but it was in the low 50s F (~10-12 C) all of the preceding week so it hasn't been feeling a lot like winter.

The sunshine and clear skies are certainly welcome after a stretch of our usual rainy winter weather but I hope the temps will drop a bit more so the sunny days will continue and we'll have a chance of some of the fantastic frost formation we get in the forest under just the right conditions.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:53 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

There is an old joke about explaining the significance of Christ's resurrection. Two people try and fail. The third say that Christ was crucified and his body was placed in a tomb. He arose after three days and exclaimed that there would be six more weeks of winter.
posted by DJZouke at 5:08 AM on February 3

It is interesting that the date for these things seems to have fixed to 2 February, when the actual midpoint between the solstice and the equinox is closer to the 5th.

Blame the Celts. It’s their calendar that fixed the cross quarter days between the equinox and solstice to 2 Feb , 1 May, 1 Aug and 1 Nov. Why the 2nd instead of the 1st in February, we don’t know, and they all died before we could ask them.

Halloween is the 31st because it’s a linguistic corruption of “All Hallow’s Eve” with November 1st being All Hallow’s Day being the cross quarter day.
posted by jmauro at 5:51 PM on February 4

Perhaps the Earth's axial tilt is the cause of this slight [so far] calendrical shift.
tldr: Oh, the obliquity!
posted by y2karl at 11:48 PM on February 4

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