Have you noticed the days growing longer? The ancients did and created stories and rituals not only to convey and value, but to prove this knowledge was important. Get a cuppa as we make sense of February.
The Roman festival Februa, gives its name to our second month. Celebrated near the 15th, it was set aside for ritual cleaning and purification, look closely you'll see it's still commemorated.
The early Christian church worked overtime to refashion pagan ritual into Christian messages, an ongoing theme throughout the calendar. Any mid winter Christian purification rituals come to mind? Ash Wednesday and Lent for starters.
The Celtic feast Imbolc, the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox takes place tonight. Imbolc, from the Celtic meaning lactating sheep, since by now lambing has begun, visual proof to an uneducated people that the world is reawakening from the winter slumbers.
Imbolc celebrates the coming of spring, preparation for planting. In traditional Irish culture it was also marked the time when wild animals began to emerge from their winter dens. Winter weather prognostication is a popular Imbolc sport.
The Imbolc patroness, Brighid, the Bride, later St. Brigid, (who's feast day is today), patroness of hearth and home is said to be greeted by serpents on Imbolc. It would later take a Christian male to rid Ireland of serpents.
Tomorrow, Groundhog Day in the US, has many pagan antecedents. February 2 is Candlemas or the Presentation in the Christian calendar.
Throughout Italy, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, good weather at Candlemas is taken to indicate severe winter weather later. An English rhyme sounds vaguely familiar. "If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, / winter will have another bite. / If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, / winter is gone and will not come again." Tie that with reawakening animals and you have Ground Hog Day.
Judging by the look out my window, I''ll be opening the pool in a few weeks.