A Northwoods Country Groundhog Day
By: Gina Kay Singerhouse
My alarm goes off each and every morning. It does not matter what day of the week, a holiday, and or a vacation day, my alarm always goes off at 5 AM. Why, you might ask? Because it is in the early morning where I find myself. It is in the silence of the dark morning where I find that small moment of peace that I can hang on to throughout the day.
There are several things that I do each morning that has become sort of a ritual to me. Perhaps the most enjoyable is taking the time each morning to go outside, even in the below zero weather, to feed the wildlife as well as a feral cat. I also take this moment to look up into the sky and just breathe. Most of the time I am standing in the middle of my yard while taking in the silence that surrounds me. In my almost 27 years in the music industry, I have trained my ears to hear the most minuscule of sounds. The down side of this is that general noise has become chaotic and a nuisance to me, while often leaving me to seek more stillness. Another ritual I take part in is toasting to the day. Granted I use coffee instead of alcohol to make my toast, it still helps me set the intention to my day. While I drink my fresh brewed coffee I am taking the moment to sit and read. All of these things that I do have helped me in the last year as I have been battling with an illness.
The History of Groundhog Day
I am always fascinated by the origins of a holiday. More so, I seek the truth within the event itself. Sure there are many websites and books that state the history of Groundhog Day, but many really do not print the truth due to the origin of the day. Groundhog Day is a day that is celebrated every year on February 2. Most sites will depict a picture that the day began in Germany with the Badger. The event was then brought by the settlers who settled in a region of the United States called Pennsylvania. Of course everyone who knows anything about Groundhog Day will know about infamous “ceremony held at Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania, centering around a semi-mythical groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, has become the most attended.” [according to Wikipedia.] Of course movie buffs will know about this celebration in Punxsutawney from the 1993 movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell; which was oddly released on February 12th.
So what is the origin of the holiday, you might ask? Well the holiday is older than you might think! In fact it is a day that has been celebrated for as long as humans have been living on earth! Imagine if you will, a time before technology. There is no internet, no television, no radio, and even no newspapers. Now imagine a time before electricity and the only thing warming your house is the heat that is radiating from the hearth in the center of your one room home. Yup! Now you are getting to the origins of Groundhog Day.
Before I go further, we must go back to the winter solstice. It is at the winter solstice that people back in those times would basically shut everything up to endure the harsh winter ahead while hoping for a mild winter. Now if you were living during those days, you would spend this time between the winter solstice and Groundhog Day resting. Your rest included going deep within your self in retrospect. This time was also spent reading, mending your clothes, and other chores that were done within your home. Nonetheless, most of it was spent resting. Of course in today’s modern world it is a society stigmatism to rest. Because of our technological advances we can and will work twenty-four hours a day. Think about your own body for a moment. Do you feel tired during these winter months? Are you a snowbird and head south for the winter, while not giving your body the rest that it needs and requires? Trust me when I say – I am one who became a workaholic to the point that now I suffer from chronic fatigue, and it’s not fun!
Getting back to our ancestors, because they did not have career weather forecasters they would pay attention to the animals in their area. In Germany they would watch the badger, while in Scotland the Scotts would beat the ground with a stick to watch the snakes emerge, and in America – well we have the Groundhog. Each of the beliefs were the same – if the animal saw its shadow, then there would be six more weeks of winter and if it did not see its shadow, all hail an early spring. More so the day signified that they were half way to spring.
Groundhog Day, half your hay
I grew up on a 370 acre dairy farm in Wisconsin. Groundhog Day was a very important day for farmers back in the day as well as when I grew up. Back then farmers worried about their livestock. A farmer could not go to the local feed store to purchase food for their animals. If a farmer calculated right, he or she would have only gone through no more than half of the food for their livestock. This was true in the household as well. Again, grocery stores and Amazon delivery was not available back then. Most of the days in August, September, October and November if you were lucky, were spent harvesting and canning or putting away food. Therefore, on February 2 was a day that food was only half way gone. If you were lucky, less than half gone.
The Holiday By Another Name
Remember when I said this holiday is older than you think? Well here it is…the holiday was and still is known as Imbolc. Imbolc began way before people kept record of time. This holiday begins on the night of January 31st and ends the morning of February 2nd of each year. This Pagan holiday – first of all there is no, and I mean NO devil worshiping or evil doing in Paganism, so get it out of your thick head! – celebrates the actions of a woman named Brigid. Brigid was a loving woman with many talents and it is said that she is the one who comes and helps wash away the cold winter winds and snow to bring forth the warmth of spring and summer. Brigid has so many loving and positive attributes that I could fill this entire website with them. Imbolc was a time to celebrate – again – the halfway mark to spring. This celebration was mainly honored by the Celts, however, it is still celebrated by many cultures today.
Christianity Steals Again
Before you go bashing me for this article, I ask you – Do you know the truth about your Christian religion or do you think you know? When Christianity began making its way through Europe and trying to convert indigenous people to their beliefs they were dealing with the strong and honest beliefs of people who lived with the Earth and not on the Earth. What’s the difference? People, such as the Celts were people who lived their lives with the cycles of the seasons. They gave thanks for everything that Earth provided while they gave back in return. People who live on the Earth are those who take advantage of everything Earth has without giving back. So, I ask which one are you?
The Celts’ lives revolved around the seasons and Christianity knew that they would not be able to convert them. So what did they do? They took the Goddess Brigid and turned her in to Saint Brigid. Thus, Christianity turned Imbolc into Candlemas or St. Brigid’s day.
Again, there is so much wonderful information behind Imbolc and Brigid that I could fill this entire website. If you have an open mind and want to learn more there are two great books in which you can read Tending Brigid’s Flame by Lunaea Weatherstone and Llewellyn’s Sabbbat Essentials – Imbolc.
The Heart of The Holiday
Whether you celebrate Groundhog Day, Imbolc, and or Candlemas; the heart of the day is all the same. First and foremost it is a day in which we acknowledge that halfway point to spring. For all of us nuts up here in the Upper Midwest of America, Spring does not arrive until sometime around May if we are lucky! The other side of this day is about planting. In some areas of the world, this would be a time to begin planting many seeds for food. In fact, avid gardeners usually plant seeds indoors at this time of the year. But it is also the time to plant the seed for the rest of the year. In many cultures including Pagan, Wicca, and China; this is the New Year. Yes! The new year begins February 1st in many cultures. So planting the seed is like New Years resolutions. But, be careful on what you plant. The old saying “be careful for what you wish for” comes into play. This would be the time that yes, we would still be resting, but we would also take notes on what we wanted to do the rest of the year. In today’s world, you can see this as a time to determine what you want to do in your personal life, your personal growth, your job, and etcetera. This is the time to start new projects, new jobs, or even a new business. Spring is on it’s way…
Groundhog Day In The Northwoods
So Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow in Pennsylvania, but if he was in our neck of the northwoods he would have. This means that we have six more weeks of winter. YES! Now I can go back to sleep and hope that I can win the battle that I am waging over this fatigue! On the side bar, you will see I have gathered several wonderful songs for you to enjoy during this wonderful holiday. Nonetheless, I believe it is Billy Dean’s song “A Seed” that says it best. Enjoy…
© Strictly Country Magazine.
February 2, 2020.
Photograph courtesy of Facebook.
The following songs are perfect
to celebrate Groundhog Day:
A Seed – Billy Dean
Every Time It Snows – Olivia Newton John
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Various Artists
Little Jack Frost Get Lost – Marjorie Hughes
Looks Like A Cold Cold Winter – Bing Crosby
Me & My Shadow – Ferlin Husky
Snow – Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Danny Kaye
The First Snowfall – Bing Crosby
There’s Frost On The Moon – Artie Shaw
When Winter Comes – Various Artists
Winter Harvest – Matt Flinner Trio
A Northwoods Country New Year…
A Northwoods Country April Fools Day…
A Northwoods Country Veteran’s Day…
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