Februar 17, 2016
As we have all heard, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow when he emerged from his slumber just over two weeks ago. Additionally, it was probably no surprise to anyone that he predicted an early forår (spring) since we have had a somewhat mild vinter (winter). So with spring right around the corner I thought there is no better time than now to think green!
When I mentioned Phil’s story to my cousin Annelise in Denmark she admittedly did not know much about our American tradition (but she did get a good laugh). However, she did tell me a bit about Candlemas Day, which, I learned, is actually the origin of our present day Groundhog’s day ritual.
A brief overview of Candlemas Day, in the 1800s many Germans immigrated to America, settling in Pennsylvania, bringing with them many traditions now woven into the tapestry of American history. The Christian Midwinter Festival known as Candlemas Day (also known as Festival of Lights) was one of these rituals. It was the day that clergy blessed all candles used in ceremonies throughout the year, symbolizing light and purification.
Furthermore, throughout ancient history, early February was a sacred time of weather forecasting, where animals were believed to be experts. Candlemas is the Christian version of the pagan tradition Imbolc, Gaelic meaning “in milk” or “in the belly” referencing the time of year when livestock were born. Imbolc was a celebration of Celtic-Irish goddess Brigid (eventually canonized by the Catholic church), goddess of fire, poetry, healing, and all things that go along with the onset of spring (agriculture, birth, renewal). In the tradition of Imbolc, a groundhog and its’ shadow are prominent in predicting the onset of spring, much like today.
Today we know more about weather patterns via scientific data, which drives our weather forecasts and seasonal predictions. Likewise, human impact on our environment has had a detrimental effect on seasonal weather patterns. To combat this, many countries have developed green initiatives, and Denmark leads the way in alternative energy strategies.
With the coming of spring, this time of year inspires feelings of revitalization and growth in all areas of our lives. Although our ancestors did not have to consider the climate issues we face today, paying homage to them through ancient rituals, superstitions and traditions is one way to honor our heritage and history, inspiring the desire for a simpler time.
Find out more about beautiful Danish gardens, gardening tips, green scenes of spring and loads of blooms here.
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