Cross-Quarter Days and the 2nd of February February 02 2018

Long before Punxsutawney Phil became a celebrity groundhog, astronomers the world round knew this day as an important cross-quarter day in the cycle of the year. Cross-quarter days are those that fall precisely halfway between the solstices and the equinoxes.

There is an oxymoronic quality to the day: if it is bright, sunny, it bodes ill for a short winter, if it is a cloudy, lowery day, it means winter will end soon. This is a characteristic of cross-quarter days.  There is truth in the prediction, just as is the cross-quarter day at Martinmas in the fall.  If there’s mud at St. Martin’s there’ll be snow at Christmas time. If there’s snow at Martinmas, there’ll be mud at Christmas time.  These predictions work like a charm and foretell the patterns of weather during the year.

The best thing to do is to remember in these days the coming changes that inevitably lace our wheel of seasons.  The Christian church chose this day, calling it Candlemas, to make all the candles the Church will need for the coming year.  In the Catholic church, it is the feast day of St. Blaise, patron saint of throats and voices. As the candles are made, they are blessed, and members of the parish go to church to have their throats blessed in turn with scissors of fresh candles that embrace the throat and protect against illness. A worthy practice during the height of cold and flu season!

Mindfulness of the seasons and the movement of the heavens is a helpful, hopeful practice, as we know in our Waldorf schools.  Light a candle and keep your hopes and eyes on the signs of the coming spring and the increasing light!  As repeatedly mentioned in Rudolf Steiner’s Calendar of the Soul, the light and warmth within us grows the strongest and becomes most apparent and important when darkness and cold come to meet us in the world.

Happy Groundhog’s Day!