This post explains the origins of Groundhog Day. We start with the astronomy of this much-celebrated day in early February. Then, we’ll look at several ancient and modern cultural celebrations.
Be sure to read to the end to learn 5 wellness practices suited to the season!
This post contains affiliate links based on my personal experience with products that support a seasonal lifestyle. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I hope you find them useful.
A Peronal Introduction
Four times I have written and rewritten this post.
I’m never satisfied with the final product, and here I am again struggling with the tension between my deep affection for this feast day of the seasonal calendar that marks the beginning of spring.
I know, I know…we consider the first day of spring at the equinox on March 21, but in the seasonal calendar, we acknowledge the early turning of the seasons. The first week of February will bring 10 hours of sunlight to most of us in the northern hemisphere, and I can feel the rising energy in my body.
In Celtic traditions, February 1st is called Imbolc, the first day of spring. In Ireland and The Catholic Church, it is also the feast day of the Goddess Brigid and St. Brigid. And here, in the good ole USA, we celebrate Groundhog Day, waiting to see if a shadow portends an early end to winter.
My rituals this time of year include tapping maples, starting seeds, and compulsive downsizing and decluttering. By now, my plans and priorities for the year are set and the rhythm of my days are driven by a compass set to their achievement.
The seasonal holidays are my mile markers along the annual journey from solstice to solstice. Meditation, solitude, reading, gardening, cooking, hiking, and crafting are the creative steps of my journey, as is writing…always writing.
Walking Always with One Foot in the Other World
Sharon Blackie is a great guide and mentor for anyone creating a seasonal life. Let me introduce you to her in the video below.
Mine is a worldview that is mythic and ecological. It relies on a known sense of place as it changes minute by minute. There are seasons of time, like summer and autumn in my world. But, just as defining and directional are seasons of the hawk migration, spring peeper chants, and emerging lovage in the herb garden.
These periodic and regular movements of place, in time, weave a story that informs my choices, forges my relationships, and shapes my soul. My life’s story is sung by the movements of stars and rejoiced by the predictable arrival of narcissus.
Now, through my story, I hope I’ve led you a little closer to the living presence of Nature. From here, let’s look at how the turning of seasons is celebrated in the mundane world.
FYI: February means purification
the word February comes from the Roman festival of purification called Februa, during which people were ritually washed.Dictionary.com
In ancient Rome, February was the last month of the year. New Year’s Day was March 1st. As such, Romans participated in ritual cleaning of persons and places during the month of February, culminating at the full moon of the month.
Some say this is where the term spring cleaning comes from. In any case, after a long winter of lethargy and questionable food stuffs, FEbruary became the month to purge, clean, and restore purity.
So, if you have that urge to cleanse, purge, or clean, there’s a lot of history supporting your impulse!
The History and Origins of Groundhog Day in the Seasonal Calendar
Groundhog Day, also known as Imbolc and St. Brigid’s Day in ancient times, is a part of a series of astronomical events that mark the turning of the seasons. In the astronomical calendar, the one ruled by the movement of the earth on its tilted axis around the sun, there are eight seasonal feast days that mark the seasons.
You are most likely familiar with the Quarter Days
- Spring Equinox – the first day of spring. This year it is March 20th at 5:58 pm in the northern hemisphere.
- Summer Solstice – the first day of summer, June 21st, 11:54 am
- Autumnal Equinox – September 23rd, 3:50 am
- Winter Solstice – December 21st, 11:59 pm.
In the United States, you can observe the archetypal energies associated with these astronomical events by the foundational celebrations that coincide with the dates: Easter, the Fourth of July, Back-to-School, and Christmas and all December holidays.
The Cross Quarter Days
There are also 4 days, called cross-quarter days, which mark the mid-point of the seasons. They occur 6 weeks into the 12-week seasonal cycle. You know of these dates, too, but not as part of the desk calendar you rely on to mark the passing of time.
These seasonal times are known as feast days in Celtic Spirituality and modern Wicca practices, as mentioned above.
The Cross Quarter Days
- Imbolc, or St. Brigid’s Day, and Candlemas are currently celebrated as Groundhog Day. Imbolc translates to ‘in the belly’ and refers to the pregnancy of ewes and the hope of new life that is the rising of Spring energy.
- Beltane, currently observed as May Day.
- Lughnasadh or First Harvest, the first week of August (maybe the least known Feast Day as we move further and further away from being an agricultural society). We know these energies by the extended end-of-August vacations.
- Samhain, today celebrated as Halloween, All Saint’s Day, and the Day of the Dead.
Observing these days and times of year has always helped me remain grounded and steady in the flow of my life.
Much like watching ocean waves that continue their rhythm through good times and bad, night and day, year after year…these seasonal feast days that mark the hours of sunlight help me make it one day at a time, trusting in nature to manage herself despite the drama of the moment.
The image below shows the wheel of the year marked off in 6-week blocks.
The Seasonal Significance of Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day, Imbolc, or St. Brigid’s Day (as you prefer) mark the point when we come to 10 hours of sunlight after the long, cold, dark days of December and January have passed.
We’ve turned the dark corner of winter.
With these magical ten hours of sunlight, things start to change, enliven, quicken.
Most plants do not grow when day length is less than 10 hours. Even if the temperature is kept within the optimum range — for example, in a climate-controlled greenhouse — most plants will just sit dormant until the magic 10 hours of light per day arrives.Johnny’s Select Seed
Watch these first two weeks of February and notice the emergence of buds on maple trees and a renewed sharpness of sunlight.
Your chickens, if you’re blessed with a flock, will begin laying again.
That spinach you planted back in September is growing again and ready for the first harvest in quite a few weeks.
More sensitive people may feel a quickening in themselves. As an elementary school teacher once said to me – as the sap rises in the trees, so it does in the children! Speaking of which, this is the best time to tap your maple trees.
And then, there’s the Groundhog!
Our modern, media-driven culture observes Groundhog Day by celebrating the return of Puxatawny Phil and his annual search for a shadow, and by watching Bill Murray/Phil Conners master his narcissism and finally get the girl.
The ancients, however, watched weather patterns to get a sense of how the remaining weeks would unfold. A bright, sunny day predicted cold, frosted nights and an extended winter. A cloudy day predicted warming rains and an early thaw.
The Folklore of St. Brigid’s Day
In the days before St. Patrick came to drive the snakes from the Emerald Isle, St. Brigid reigned as a Great Mother Goddess.
Brigid the Goddess holds dominion over the daily blessing and trials of a woman’s life. She is the Goddess of the hearth fires, childbirth and midwives, wells.
Brigid is a fierce one! She is the Goddess of warriors and her soldiers are called Brigands.
To this day, celebrations of St. Brigid’s Day in rural Ireland include the earth-bound activities of harvesting rushes, crafting crosses from them, and leaving towels out in the night air to capture the blessings of St. Brigid for healing.
Candlemas | The Christian Celebration of Early February
Candlemas is the celebration of the presentation of the baby Jesus by Mary and Joseph to the Temple in Jerusalem. In the middle ages, this holiday was celebrated with processions of lit candles. Once profound, The Church, outside of France, celebrates Candlemas as a minor feast day by blessing candles.
Except in France where it remains a significant religious and cultural holiday associated with eating crepes!
It is also a day that celebrates the ritual purification of Mary after birthing Jesus. Yes, they banished women from participating in the life of the Temple for 40 days for a male birth and 60 days for a female birth. I’ll just leave that right here for your contemplation…
5 Wellness Practices for February
The 2020 Seasonal Living Planner
February is a perfect time to pull out the 2020 Seasonal Living Calendar.
Check your goals, create your plan for the month, and review how your efforts to create your seasonal life went in January.
A Healthy Smoothie Recipe Roundup for February
posted on FEBRUARY 1, 2020
Healthy Smoothie Recipe Roundup has a February focus. Check out the link to The Herbal Kitchen’s FREE smoothie making webinar below!
It’s a part of the 52 Weeks of Seasonal Eating in 2020 project here at Lorrie Season.
This post also contains affiliate links based on my personal experience with products that support a seasonal lifestyle. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I hope you find them useful.Find the Perfect Blender for your Budget and Lifestyle!
February Seasonal Ingredients
I was sick almost every February as a child. This wasn’t your average rhinovirus! I mean knock-down, drag-out, weeks in bed sick.
Looking back, I rest the majority of the responsibility of this late winter malaise on my parents and their totally absent cooking skills. TV dinners, packaged foods, sugary drinks…ugh.
That experience of habitual and predictable poor health is one of the drivers for my current obsession with seasonal eating in the off-season and 4-season growing.
That, and the way my body was completely unprepared for midlife changes because of these poor eating habits established in childhood. Food really is medicine, and we can eat for wellness, every single meal, with less planning than you might think.
An Herbal Kitchen Approach to Smoothies
One of my seasonal kitchen hero’s is Kami McBride of the Herbal Kitchen. I’ve used her book and online resources for years, and I continue to keep learning ways to bring healing and flavorful herbs into my meals.
Kami offers a free online webinar on crafting green smoothies with healthy herb-intensive smoothies. You can take it at this link!
In the course, Kami offers a base recipe that you can use to create seasonal herbal smoothies. I used her recommendations as a guide for selecting smoothie recipes that are nourishing, flavorful, and perhaps healing.
Seasonal eating in February is interesting because we have all the winter ingredients from our pantry and freezer, some locally sourced ingredients from winter farmers markets, and the emergence of new growth in our 4-season kitchen garden.
Use this list of seasonal foods for the month of February to create healthy smoothies for breakfast or lunch as part of your seasonal eating meal plan.
February Smoothie Recipe Roundup
Working with nutrition, flavor, and healing as the motivation for having a smoothie as a meal in the month of February, I created this handy roundup of online recipes that focus on the seasonal flavors of late winter.Create Pinterest PinPHOTO CREDIT: www.blenderbabes.com
My absolute favorite smoothie! Use what you have with this as a base recipe. Mine will start with my handcrafted, canned Bloody Mary Mix, and include lemon, avocado, celery, onion, winter greens, and hot sauce!Continue ReadingCreate Pinterest PinPHOTO CREDIT: www.aroundmyfamilytable.com
Berries for this recipe come from my freezer and include low glycemic berries like blueberries and blackberries.Continue ReadingCreate Pinterest PinPHOTO CREDIT: cookinglsl.com
Drop the maple syrup from this recipe and you’ll have a real sweet winner. The apples and pears bring all the sweet you need!Continue ReadingCreate Pinterest PinPHOTO CREDIT: www.insightfulbite.com
There have been a lot of beet smoothies in my life recently. The local farmers market has plenty, and they are very affordable. Ginger and beets are one of my favorite flavor profiles! Substitute cherries with any low glycemic, organic berry.Continue ReadingCreate Pinterest PinPHOTO CREDIT: minimalistbaker.com
Honestly, you just can’t go wrong with any recipe from the Minimalist Baker!Continue ReadingCreate Pinterest PinPHOTO CREDIT: www.liveeatlearn.com
Just need a quick pick-me-up one February morning? Go ahead, make this coffee smoothie. I would recommend that you don’t need both the banana and the syrup. Drop the sweet!Continue ReadingCreate Pinterest PinPHOTO CREDIT: learningherbs.com
Another basic herbal smoothie base recipe and then an herbal lemon verbena smoothie recipe.Continue ReadingCreate Pinterest PinPHOTO CREDIT: www.myhumblekitchen.com
Kid-friendly smoothies using Kami McBride’s Herbal Kitchen method.Continue Reading
Use this Healthy Smoothie Roundup for February with any of the winter meal plans we offer!
52 Weeks of Seasonal Eating is a year-long project from Lorrie Season that explores the practicality of eating seasonal every week of the year. You can find all the meal plans by clicking the image below!
There’s a party happening and we’re waiting for you to arrive!
We also gather over email once a week to focus on one specific garden, kitchen, or wellness topic in-depth, with lots of step-by-step how-to’s. The best way to jump into the email conversation is with the Seasonal Living Workbook, you can download it here and explore the seasonal living framework with an email course!
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