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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published February 01 2013

Weather Talk: Feb. 2 celebration dates back to ancient times

Today is Groundhog’s Day, made famous in recent decades by the celebration in Punxsutawney, Pa. But the origins of having a celebration on Feb. 2 goes back to ancient times as today marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. In more modern times, European Christians observed Candlemas on this date.

The name derives from the candles lit in churches to celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem. An old Celtic saying developed around that holiday that “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another flight, If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.”

The mark of the midpoint between a solstice and an equinox is referred to as a cross quarter day. The other such days in the year include May 1, with our May Day celebration, Aug. 1, without a modern celebration and Oct. 31, which, of course, is the day in recent times on which Halloween is observed.

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