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Calendar for February 2nd, 2013

Candlemas/Groundhog Day

It's no accident that Groundhog Day and Candlemas are celebrated together, for both signify the triumph of light over darkness, spring over winter.
Candlemas was originally a Celtic festival marking the "cross-quarter day," or midpoint of the season. The Sun is halfway on its advance from the winter solstice to the spring equinox. The Christian church expanded this festival of light to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and her presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple. Candlelit processions accompanied the feast day.
Since the traditional Candlemas celebration anticipated the planting of crops, a central focus of the festivities was the forecasting of either an early spring or a lingering winter. Sunshine on Candlemas was said to indicate the return of winter. Similarly, "When the wind's in the east on Candlemas Day / There it will stick till the second of May."
A bear brought the forecast to the people of France and England, while those in Germany looked to a badger for a sign. In the 1800s, German immigrants to Pennsylvania brought their Candlemas legends with them. Finding no badgers but lots of groundhogs, or woodchucks, there, they adapted the New World species to fit the lore.
Today that lore has grown into a full-blown festival, with Punxsutawney Phil presiding. For all things groundhog, visit the folks at Punxsutawney and see what Phil is predicting this year.


  • Born 1859: Havelock Ellis (scientist)

  • 1880s

  • Born 1882: James Joyce (author)

  • 1882: The Knights of Columbus formed, New Haven, CT

  • Born 1886: William Rose Benet (poet)

  • 1890s

  • Born 1890: Charles Correll (actor)

  • Born 1895: George Halas (football player)

  • 1900s

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  • 1910s

  • 1913: Grand Central Terminal, the great train station of New York City, opened. Over 150,000 people visited on opening day

  • 1914: Charlie Chaplin made his film debut in Making a Living

  • Born 1919: Ann Fogarty (fashion designer)

  • 1920s

  • Born 1923: James Dickey (poet)

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  • 1930s

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  • Born 1942: Grahm Nash (musician)

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  • Born 1948: Jessica Savitch (broadcast journalist)

  • 1950s

  • Born 1953: Christie Brinkley (model)

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  • Died 1969: Boris Karloff (actor)

  • 1970s

  • Died 1970: Bertrand Russell (mathematician & philosopher)

  • Born 1976: Michael Weiss (champion figure skater)

  • Born 1977: Shakira (singer)

  • 1990s

  • Died 1996: Gene Kelly (dancer & actor)

  • 2010s

  • Died 2014: Philip Seymour Hoffman (actor)

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