Imbolc What Do We Celebrate?
Imbolc is one of the four principal festivals of the Irish calendar, celebrated among Gaelic peoples and some other Celtic cultures either at the beginning of February or at the first local signs of Spring. Most commonly it is celebrated on February 2, since this is the cross-quarter day on the solar calendar, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere. Originally dedicated to the goddess Brigid, in the Christian period, it was adopted as St Brigid’s Day. In Scotland, the festival is also known as Là Fhèill Brìghde, in Ireland as Lá Fhéile Bríde, and in Wales as Gwyl Ffraed.
Another holiday deriving from Imbolc was Candlemas Day which is celebrated on February 2 (Groundhog Day). Candlemas is the feast of Mary’s purification and is marked by a candle procession. The ties between purification rituals and the month of February also hark back to the pagan era. Indeed, our very word, “February,” which derives from Latin, unmistakably designates the month as a time for purification (februa means “expiatory offerings”). The Lupercalia, a pagan Roman purification ritual, took place in February.
We also check to see if the Ground Hog sees his shadow that tradition is compiled of traditions from many cultures.
It is believed if the Sun is shining on that day and animals see their shadows winter will last another 6 weeks. The habits of Animals have long been used to determine the weather. Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather prognostication, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to the North American Groundhog Day The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College.
But even before our famous Punxsutawney Phil in Pa, Germans watched a badger for the shadow.