Today,2nd February, is Candlemas, the last festival in the Christian year that is dated by reference to Christmas and is around the time that bears and wolves emerged from winter hibernation to inspect the weather. Folklore had it that if they returned to their dens then winter would continue for another 40 days. In the United States and Canada, Candlemas evolved into Groundhog Day celebrated on the same date where it is assumed that if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early, some time before the vernal equinox; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

In the absence of bears, wolves and ground hogs (a large ground squirrel) around Crickhowell I have shared another traditional weather predicting rhyme. –

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will have another fight.

If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,

Winter will not come again.

The 2nd of February is also known by the old Celtic name of “Imbolc”, which is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year or the mid way point between winter and spring – half way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The term “Imbolc” translates as either “in milk” or “in the belly,” and marked the birth and nursing of the spring lambs as a sign of the first stirrings of spring in the middle of winter. I haven’t seen any lambs yet but there are plenty of snowdrops or ‘milk flowers’ making their debut.

Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, Brighid’s Day, and probably by many other names and has a variety of folklore and weather predictions connected to it, but talking to Derek the weatherman recently he said that although we had been lucky with a drier and warmer than average January, February was going to be much wetter and colder!

I’ll be checking the weather on the 2nd, Derek – and looking out for bears, wolves or groundhogs!

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