Groundhog Day in Italy

Candlemas Day

Many people on Groundhog Day (February 2) wait for groundhogs to emerge from their holes. For according to Anglo-Saxon folklore, if the groundhog sees its shadow, we’re sure to have six more weeks of winter. And of course, he can only see his shadow on sunny days, so a bright, sunny day foretells more winter. A cloudy day and no shadow supposedly means spring is on the way. 

Italy doesn’t really celebrate Groundhog Day, as we have no actual groundhogs. They are strictly a North American rodent. Although we do have some of their closely related marmot cousins. Yet Groundhog Day does have its origins in ancient European weather lore surrounding Candlemas, on Feb 2.

With other, European mammals taking the celebrity role, of course. Some say it was the badger, others the bear. And still others the hedgehog. Personally, I stick with the hedgehog. This cute, adorable creature never made it to the New World, while the bear and badger did. So it stands to reason that the Americans would have needed to find a substitute similar to him.

Italians also had ancient lore surrounding Candlemas weather forecasting.

But it was the bear or wolf (depending on the region), who traditionally held the responsibility of making the winter forecast. As in the following saying, translated from Italian.

If the bear throws off his bedding, coming out of his den, winter will win. But if he stays in, then Spring will soon come again.

Watching for bear or wolves to emerge has now largely gone by the wayside. Good thing too — it seems a rather dangerous pastime! Over time, this catchy saying replaced bear or wolf watching. And nowadays we can just watch the skies!

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another fight. If Candlemas Day brings clouds and rain,Winter is gone and won’t come again.

So greatly did people once believe these things, that fishermen even refused to set sail on Candlemas Day. They were convinced that any voyage undertaken that day would surely end in disaster. But at least that freed them to attend Candlemas services, which celebrate both the Christ child’s presentation and Mary’s purification.

Personally, I don’t pay much mind to any of these old wife’s tales. I’ll stick with what the Meteorologists say. That winter’s increased shipwrecks are probably due to February’s typically stormy weather. Which often continues well into March, whether any animal — groundhog, hedgehog, bear, or wolf — sees its shadow or not!

The Candlemas weather rhyme has predicted a long winter here this year. 😦 And the wolf? I didn’t check! Thankfully, there are none around here! And in any case, I’m still hoping for a short winter. Because the weather, after all, is in God’s hands, and no others!

Hope you enjoyed the Groundhog Day Serendipity Stop!

Take time for Serendipity Stops… you never know what treasures you may find!

Image ©SimplySheila

5 thoughts on “Groundhog Day in Italy

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