February 2 is generally referred to as Groundhog’s Day, made famous in recent decades by the celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. But the origins of having a celebration on February 2 goes back to ancient times as today marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox.
In more modern times, European Christians observed Candlemas on this date. The name derives from the candles lit in churches to celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem. An old Celtic saying developed around that holiday that “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another flight, If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.” The mark of the midpoint between a solstice and an equinox is referred to as a cross quarter day. The other such days in the year include May 1, with our May Day celebration, August 1, without a modern celebration and October 31, which of course is the day in recent times that Halloween is observed.
The exact day when there is the mid-point between the equinoxes and the the solstices fluctuates by a day or so yearly, but has also drifted slightly over time (calendar changes), but the days mentioned have held with the traditional dates for hundreds of years. The cross quarters day also tend to mark the time period when daylight begins to increase or decrease rapidly and the changes in day length become very noticeable. This time of year it is for a rapid increase in day light, the cross quarter days in August and October tend to mark the noticeable transitions to a fast decrease in day light.
Happy Cross Quarter Day!