Happy Hedgehog Day

The Hamor Hollow hedgies would like to report that they did not see their shadows yesterday evening when they came out of their huts. "I was the first to get up around 6:00 PM", reports Pixel, "and there was not a single shadow in sight. I checked behind the hut and next to the food dish, but I could not find one." Pixel's findings were later confirmed by Spike when he awoke at 6:10 PM. The hedgies were excited by this news and were already planning an early Summer vacation when Kelly arrived on the scene to tell them that they woke up about 3 hours too late, and that they should, in fact, expect at least 6 more weeks of winter.

"Hedgehog Day", celebrated on February 2, has its roots in an ancient pagan celebration the Scottish Celts called Imbolog, honoring Brigit, the Earth Mother. (In Scotland and Ireland, this is Brigit's Day - La Fheill na Bride - and is seen as the first day of spring).

Christians dedicated the day to Saint Brigit, patron of cattle and dairy farming. Legend says that Saint Brigit was born at sunrise on the threshold, neither inside nor outside of the house. Thus she represents the transition to spring.

This date marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. In a society dependent on agriculture and therefore on the weather, this was a time to celebrate having made it halfway through winter. The superstition arose that if the weather was fair on Imbolog, the second half of the winter would be inclement, but if the weather was inclement on Imbolog, the second half of the winter would be fair.

In early Christian times in Europe, February 2 was celebrated as Candlemas Day, the legendary day when Christ was first presented in the temple. It was said that Candlemas was the time when the weather pattern for the remainder of the year would be apparent. If Candlemas was clear, it signaled foul weather ahead, but if it was cloudy, then one could expect conditions to improve. For centuries it was the custom to have clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. According to an old English song:

"If Candlemas be fair and bright Come, winter, have another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go, winter, and come not again."

The Romans learned the traditional beliefs from the Scottish Celts, and brought them to the area that was to become Germany, where the Germans concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of winter. German immigrants brought these beliefs with them to Pennsylvania, where the tradition of predicting the weather became centered around the woodchuck or groundhog, as there were no hedgehogs in North America. It seemed fitting, as the Native Americans already observed that the groundhog is a most wise and sensible animal. As people emigrated from great Britain to the US and Canada, they brought the myth along and changed it from a night-time moon shadow, to a daytime sun shadow to do the forecasting.

So Happy Hedgehog Day to everyone from all of us! A time of diminishing shadows - a time of celebrating light!

Information collected by Charlotte.