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  • Happy Imbolc, everybody! Also known as Candelmas, also known as Groundhog Day. Today is a “cross-quarter” day, as we have made it halfway through the winter this day, which lies halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It’s also on this day that I always begin to listen for that golden sound which brings sweet music to my ears – “Pitchers and Catchers report for Spring Training”, which marks the official beginning of preparations for the coming Major League Baseball Season, which will happen any day now (in 10 days, actually), once that goofy groundhog has crawled out of his hole. A most meaningful day, this! I lifted the following detailed explanation of the meaning of this day from an article on the internet, a Care2 blog, written by Judy Molland, which I found quite interesting:

    "Imbolc (meaning ‘in the belly’ or ‘ewe’s milk’) was one of the centerpieces of the Celtic calendar. With winter stores of food getting low, the Celts performed Imbolc rituals to harness divine energy that would ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later.
    Imbolc was known as the festival of light, and celebrations focused on the lighting of fires. Fire was perhaps more important for this festival than others as it was also the holy day of Brigid, the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

    "When the Roman Catholic Church christianized Ireland, they couldn’t really call the Great Goddess of Ireland a demon, so they canonized her instead, making her Saint Brigit. They cleverly explained this by telling the Irish that Brigit was really an early Christian missionary sent to the Emerald Isle, and that the miracles she performed there misled the common people into believing that she was a Goddess.

    "Just as the Roman Catholic church co-opted Brigit and made her a Catholic saint, so they also took over Imbolc, renaming it ‘Candlemas,’ a time when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.We won’t go into the misogynistic reasons why Mary had to be purified, but this became a time when the Church’s candles for the year were blessed.

    "Thus did the Christian church take an already-existing Pagan festival of light and turn it into a Christian tradition.

    "Emulating the Imbolc tradition precisely, the Gospel of Luke says that Jesus was met by Anna and Simeon, who held the baby Jesus and called him a Light to the World.

    "Which leads us to Groundhog Day. A traditional British saying predicts:
    If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
    Winter will have another fight.
    If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
    Winter won’t come again.

    "Thus was February 2 established as the day to predict the coming of spring. Add to this the belief that thousands of years ago, people in the area of Europe now known as Germany believed that the badger had the power to predict the coming of spring. They watched the badger to know when to plant their crops.

    "When the first German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, they brought their tradition with them. However, with a dearth of badgers in Pennsylvania, the groundhog has taken over.

    "So you can choose which holiday you want to honor on February 2, or you can check out the ancient Romans, Greeks, Chinese, and many Native Americans who all have similar holidays. It’s an interfaith day of celebration!"

    (Read more:"

    And, of course, Groundhog Day became forever immortalized by Bill Murray in the movie by the same name, which was somewhat ironic, since he’d also played a character in an earlier movie, “Caddyshack”, whose chief aim throughout the movie, as a golf course’s slightly “touched” groundskeeper, was to blow up the groundhogs who were tearing up the course. He eventually wound up completely destroying the course – (which I always took as a statement about the effectiveness of War).

    This is when I begin my winter softball preparations in earnest. I spent January thinking about getting myself into a more healthy fitness regime. Today, I will actually begin doing something.

    Me and the groundhog emerge on this day, beginning preparations for Spring. Punxatawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning, which is his way of predicting an early Spring. Good job, Phil. Now, let’s get ready for springtime!

    Have a great day, everyone!
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