In most regions of North America Saturday, 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.