Spring is on the way!

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 5, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I love animal holidays. Watching all the little kids (and big kids!) lug their hamsters, dogs, kittens, guinea pigs, bunnies, parakeets, and everything else off to church on the Feast of St. of Francis is touching and a delight to watch. On one thing the Catholic Church was wise–to acknowledge our deep ties, love, and mystical bonds with our pets and animal companions. I think of Groundhog Day as another Catholic holiday since it is so associated with Candlemas, also celebrated on February 2nd. It also has furry, cute and loveable star: Punxsutawney Phil.

There was a tradition that a sunny Candelmas Day would lead winter to last for another six weeks. In Germany, the belief that an animal frightened when seeing its shadow on Candlemas became another indicator that winter could possibly last for another six weeks. The hedge-hog was the German animal of choice for the job. Germans brought this tradition to America during the 18th century. Americans then adopted the ground-hog as their weather predictor. Candlemas marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and recognizes the animals’ sensitivity to weather changes. Farmers used to rely on them to help plan the spring planting.

Each February 2nd a mob of people descend on Punxsutawney, PA, a town about 65 miles north of Pittsburgh. This year, more than 15,000 revelers milled about in misty snow waiting for the prediction, as fireworks exploded overhead and the “Pennsylvania Polka” and other music blasted in the background.

“I see no shadow today,” his human translator announced on Phil’s behalf. “I predict an early spring is on the way.”

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