Like so many holiday's, this one stems from ancient pagan beliefs. Ancient peoples celebrated a spring festival called Brigit in early February on the date that is 6 weeks from the Winter Solstice and 6 weeks to the Vernal Equinox. People had always thought they could predict when spring would come by watching hibernating animals (badgers, bears, hedgehogs) who awoke from their sleep in the beginning of February. If the animal saw its shadow, there would be several more weeks of winter. This holiday has evolved from it's early beginnings to what it is today and is now usually only celebrated by children in elementary school. But I like to use this holiday to explore the ways that holidays morph over time.
What we do:
We discuss ancient mid-winter customs over a candle-light poetry dinner. Pagans celebrated creativity at this holiday, so we celebrate our creativity by sharing our favorite poem or book with the family. Then we talk about whether the groundhog saw its shadow or not and try to think of things that we're thankful for about the winter, in order to focus on the positive during the next 6 weeks, because we know that no matter what the ground hog sees, we'll still have 6 more weeks of winter.
- Groundhog Day by Gail Gibbons
- Circle Round, Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill