What’s Punxsutawney Phil got to do with Candlemas?

Figure 1 – Groundhog Day 2005 in Punxsutawney – Courtesy of Wikipedia

What has the Groundhog Day ceremony being held today at Punxsutawney Pennsylvania got do with the weather lore that surrounds Candlemas?

Well its just another variation on some old weather lore that predicts the arrival of spring by the weather on Candlemas day. They all work on the same principle – if the weather is fine and clear, winter will live on spring won’t come till its due time, if it’s cloudy and dull, winter is finished and spring will come early.

So the presence of a groundhog in the proceedings at Punxsutawney is totally unnecessary, you may as well use the nearest lamp-post!  It’s strange why the state of the sky in this single location can be seen as a predictor for the arrival of spring across the whole country, let alone the northern hemisphere.

This is the wee bit of weather lore that I’m familiar concerning Candlemas on the 2nd of February:

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
But if Candlemas Day bring clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and won’t come again.
If Candlemas Day be mild and gay,
Go saddle your horses, and buy them hay
But if Candlemas Day be stormy and black
It carries the winter away on its back.

So by the look of it, at least across our part of Devon, Candlemas looks to be a reasonably bright and dry day so winter is not quite over yet – not that we’ve had one in this part of the world. Which luckily ties in with what the latest NWP forecasts are saying for the next 16 days which look progressively more anticyclonic.