Did You Know That Groundhog Day Has Christian Origins?

Meg Bucher | Contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com | Thursday, February 1, 2018
Did You Know That Groundhog Day Has Christian Origins?

Did You Know That Groundhog Day Has Christian Origins?


Groundhog Day is the celebratory holiday in American when Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow tells us how much more of winter we have left to endure. If the Northwestern Pennsylvanian groundhog sees his shadow, legend states that we will experience six more weeks of winter. Tens of thousands gather annually to witness the animal emerge, in hopes that he will not see his shadow, signaling that spring will arrive early.

But that’s not all there is to this holiday. Its origins actually rest in the hands of Christians in celebration of The Feast of Candlemas. German settlers of the Pennsylvania area brought the tradition of predicting the length of winter via hedgehog across the ocean. Groundhogs were so common to the area they settled in, that they eventually started to consult what we can only assume to be Punxsutawney Phil’s ancestors.

In Germany, candles were distributed in the wintertime, and blessed by clergy on Candlemas Day. The celebration, also referred to as the Feast of Christ’s Presentation in the Temple, is symbolically associated with a special blessing of candles to represent Simeon’s proclamation of Jesus as “the light of the Gentiles.” Daniel Lattierwrites that, “it commemorates the day when 40 days after his birth, according to Jewish custom, Jesus Christ would have been brought to the Jerusalem Temple so that his mother could be ritually purified and he offered to God.”

How did this religious commemoration become a staple of weather forecasting? Intellectual Takeout quoted The Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, which states, “Popular belief claims that bad weather and cloudy skies of February 2 mean an early and prosperous summer. If the sun shines through the greater part of Candlemas Day, there will be forty more day of snow.”

Time reported that, “In 1886, the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper printed the first news of a Groundhog Day observance.” One hundred and thirty-two years later, Punxsutawney Phil has his ownInstagram, souvenir shop, and live stream.

But that’s not all there is to this holiday. Its origins actually rest in the hands of Christians in celebration of The Feast of Candlemas. German settlers of the Pennsylvania area brought the tradition of predicting the length of winter via hedgehog across the ocean. Groundhogs were so common to the area they settled in, that they eventually started to consult what we can only assume to be Punxsutawney Phil’s ancestors.

In Germany, candles were distributed in the wintertime, and blessed by clergy on Candlemas Day. The celebration, also referred to as the Feast of Christ’s Presentation in the Temple, is symbolically associated with a special blessing of candles to represent Simeon’s proclamation of Jesus as “the light of the Gentiles.” Daniel Lattierwrites that, “it commemorates the day when 40 days after his birth, according to Jewish custom, Jesus Christ would have been brought to the Jerusalem Temple so that his mother could be ritually purified and he offered to God.”

How did this religious commemoration become a staple of weather forecasting? Intellectual Takeout quoted The Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, which states, “Popular belief claims that bad weather and cloudy skies of February 2 mean an early and prosperous summer. If the sun shines through the greater part of Candlemas Day, there will be forty more day of snow.”

Time reported that, “In 1886, the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper printed the first news of a Groundhog Day observance.” One hundred and thirty-two years later, Punxsutawney Phil has his ownInstagram, souvenir shop, and live stream.

 

Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org. “Mom” is the most important calling on her life, next to encouraging others to seek Him first … authentically. A writer, dance mom, substitute teacher, youth worship leader/teacher and Bible Study leader, she can often be found having some kind of an adventure in the small little lake town where she resides with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/evgenymelnikov

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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