To­day is ‘Calmest’ day

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

In most re­gions of North Amer­ica to­day, Feb. 2, is called ‘ Ground­hog Day’.

But in New­found­land and Labrador, the day was once called ‘ Can­dle­mas Day’ or ‘ Calmest Day’.

Cana­di­ans and Amer­i­cans alike search out their near­est ‘ ground­hog’ to de­ter­mine whether win­ter is close to be­ing over, or if there’s an­other six weeks of the frosty sea­son in the off­ing.

The ground­hog story sug­gests if the furry an­i­mal emerges from his bur­row ‘ Ground­hog Day’ and is fright­ened back af­ter see­ing his own shadow, then win­ter will keep its grasp on us. How­ever, if he doesn’t see his shadow and re­mains out of his bur­row then win­ter is al­most over.

‘Can­dle­mas Day’ was orig­i­nally a Chris­tian Church fes­ti­val and for those purists here is a rhyme – in di­rect con­trast to the Ground­hog story – once re­peated in New­found­land to ac­com­pany Can­dle­mas Day or ‘Calmest Day’. Calmest day bright and fine, worst of win­ter left be­hind; Calmest day black and glum, worst of win­ter yet to come.

Since ground­hogs do not ex­ist in this prov­ince, some New­found­lan­ders have sub­sti­tuted ‘ bears’ emerg­ing from their dens to give an in­di­ca­tion of weather to come.

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