Today, the 2nd February was Ground Hog Day. In Europe it was also Candlemas Day (the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple).

Now there is a tradition in America that if the humble ground hog emerges from his burrow in sunshine, he/she quickly returns and winter too will return. But if it is a dull day, he/she remains outside on the basis that winter has ended.

Very similar folklore surrounds Candlemas Day, though it does not involve any rodent. It is expressed in England in a rhyme:

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another fight;

But if Candlemas Day be dull and drear,

There'll be no more winter in the year

So Ground Hog Day, and Candlemas Day are both celebrated on 2nd February, and in both cases, the weather is seen as being a pointer to the continuation of, or end to the winter.

What is the connection between them?

  • @MarkC.Wallace But it is the same idea. If it is a sunny day then winter will return - but dull and drab then winter is over. The American settlers may well have seen Candlemas Day as a Catholic festival, and hence beyond the pale of Puritans. It was certainly preserved in Anglicanism. – WS2 Feb 3 '16 at 14:22
  • @MarkC.Wallace Point taken, I've changed the title. – WS2 Feb 3 '16 at 16:38
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    I think the answer to the question is found on the wikipedia page and the associated footnote. The first recorded occurrence of Ground Hog Day explicitly recognizes the European tradition and links it to Candlemas. VtC as trivial. – Mark C. Wallace Feb 3 '16 at 17:27
  • Well done. I normally look at Wikipedia, but this time didn't. And what might VtC be? – WS2 Feb 3 '16 at 23:21
  • It is an acronym for Vote to Close. – CGCampbell Feb 5 '16 at 14:12