Groundhog Day looming

Celebrate the seasons

February 2 is Groundhog Day, a day made famous in pop culture by the Bill Murray movie in which he lives the day over and over again until he learns that he must make the most of what life has given him. 

I thought I would share a more historical interpretation, which has similarities to the movie but is a bit more complex. I will, of course, add food to the mix.

As history tells it, the original name for Groundhog Day is Candlemas. It was a celebratory feast to commemorate the presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, and included the blessing of candles that would be used throughout the coming year (Jesus was seen as a symbol of light or revelation, so the connection with candles is logical). It was also known as the earliest of festivals to celebrate the Virgin Mary. 

With the light stretching further through the day, Candlemas also signified the first leap to spring, and was considered by some to be the start of the spring season. Here lies the connection to our current rodent-centric customs.

There are significant things to remember about the more secular Candlemas traditions. For example, this is when any symbols of Christmas are to be removed (thus formally ending the Christmas season, 40 days later), so if Santa isn't off the roof yet, you'd better go get him. 

As well, beginning a voyage at sea is not recommended on this day (sailors believed it would end in disaster). 

If you followed the tradition of Epiphany on January 6, having won the figurine in the King Cake would mean you were beholden to host a party on Candlemas. Just to be clear, even if you didn't win the figurine, you can still host a party, if you feel like it.

Whether you consider religious seasons or nature’s seasons, our Groundhog Day has a noble history. 

When that favourite rodent in various North American cities peeks his nose out from his winter slumber, he offers an omen of the days to come. Interestingly, it is based on a kind of logic, as traditions often are. 

Groundhogs aren’t scared of their shadows, and sailors aren’t scared to sail on a calendar date, but they know weather patterns. 

The same is true with foodie traditions that occur at festival time. 

And really, on a chill February day, be it mucky or grey and snowy, why not boost your spirits by celebrating Groundhog Day/Candlemas with friends and good food? 

Some international ideas to inspire you ~

In France
The French celebrate by eating crepes, but only after 8 p.m.. Are they waiting for the winter moon to rise, and the crepes are to symbolize the shape? If you can flip a crepe successfully while holding a coin in the other hand you will see prosperity in the coming year (of course you will - you just kept the coin, didn’t you?!)/

In Spain
The Spaniards celebrate by eating tamales, as the planting of the corn can begin as early as this. Even if you don’t want to be that elaborate in your cooking, a bit of cornbread or even a muffin could stand in as a nod to the tradition of farmers beginning their work of the season. Do you even need another reason to stop at Timmies?

In Ireland
The Irish put a loaf of bread on the windowsill as an offering for St. Birgid, who is associated as both a pagan goddess of fertility and a saint in County Kildare. Remember, it’s still a wee bit cold, so it’s okay to consume those carbohydrates, right?

I hope these ideas lead to inspiration. If not, well, never fear. We have Mardi Gras coming up next, and that certainly deserves celebrating. 

Or, I suppose, if you need immediate gratification and aren't interested in celebrating a rodent-centric holiday, then you could just break open the snacks and enjoy the Superbowl on Sunday with some friends. 

May whatever sun there is shine brightly on your house! 

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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