The photo pictured above, taken in candlelight, is a large portrait in oil I did some years back of St. Brigid that hangs in the front parlor of Chez Moose.
Given the struggle Christian missionaries faced in their efforts to preach the Gospel in Ireland, even though they Christianized some elements, the adoption of a pagan goddess into the Communion of Saints may have been an effort to Christianize one of the most enduring pagan goddesses
What Mother Nature was wont to do was certainly an issue best left in the hands of the goddesses. In Scotland, Cailleach, the Old Woman of Winter, was reborn at Imbolc as a goddess named Bride who was the Scottish incarnation of the Irish Brigid and also the Maiden of Spring. And folklore had it that "Early on Bride's morn the serpent shall come from its hole".
And there was a similar prediction associated with Brigid on February 2, her Saint's Day in the Christian tradition: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there will be two winters this year", goes the saying.
In other words, if hibernating animals emerge to find sunlight and shadow on February 2, then winter will continue for the full 12 weeks. But what could the groundhog possibly have to do with the weather?
Our American folk-calendar keeps the tradition of Groundhog's Day, a day to predict the coming weather, telling us that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. This custom is ancient. An old British rhyme tells us that 'If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year.' Actually, all of the cross-quarter days can be used as inverse weather predictors, whereas the quarter-days are used as direct weather predictors. Vance Randolf, an Ozark folklorist, stated that the "old-timers" used to celebrate Groundhogs Day on February 14th. Groundhog Day in the U.S. originated with the Imbolc celebrations of German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. Looking for a hibernating animal that would make a suitable forecaster, they chose the groundhog. (Perhaps their decision was even influenced by their neighbors, the native Americans of the Delaware tribe who revered Wojak, the groundhog, and other animals as sacred descendants of their Creator.)
Candlemas...The Candlemas season of February 2 each year is unique. It includes,
A Pagan Sabbat: Candlemas, usually celebrated on or near the evening of February 2. Mainly celebrated by Neo-Pagans (no that's not a dirty word) A Christian holy day, and a Welsh festival known as NOS GWYL FAIR, that begins sundown, February 2; Fire Festival of Cerridwen, when we prepare light so that our goddess may find her way out of the darkness and return to us; Cerridwen, the triple goddess of poetry, smith-craft, and medicine, presides. We bid farewell to the horned god.
This error accumulated so that after about 131 years the calendar is out of sync with the equinoxes and solstices by one day. Thus as the centuries passed the Julian Calendar became increasingly inaccurate with respect to the seasons. This was especially troubling to the Roman Catholic Church because it affected the determination of the date of Easter, which, by the 16th Century, was well on the way to slipping into Summer.
Pope Paul III recruited several astronomers, principally the Jesuit Christopher Clavius (1537-1612), to come up with a solution. They built upon calendar reform proposals by the astronomer and physician Luigi Lilio (d. 1576). When Pope Gregory XIII was elected he found various proposals for calendar reform before him, and decided in favor of that of Clavius. On 1582-02-24 he issued a papal bull, Inter Gravissimas, establishing what is now called the Gregorian Calendar reform. And Valentines day slid from Feb 2 to Feb 14. So Valentines day (February 14) is really the old style candlemas and Nos Gwyl Fair (February 2) is the new style Candlemas. Like the other High Holidays or Great Sabbats of the Witches' year, Candlemas is sometimes celebrated on it's alternate date, astrologically determined by the sun at 15-degrees Aquarius, or Candlemas Old Style.