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Celebrating the Sun’s Return

Sunrise over the Gunpowder River as seen traveling by MARC train

Many people who love the outdoors and become enamored with learning more about the natural world tend to concentrate on a favorite area: such as plants, or fish, or birds. My fascination is around the cultural traditions that have developed around the changing of the seasons.

The origin of Groundhog Day goes way back to ancient Celtic times and is associated with the goddess Brigid (later named a saint in Christianity). This day celebrated the first signs of spring, giving hope that light, warmth, and growth were returning to the world.

The Romans, Egyptians, and agrarian cultures practiced similar celebrations at this time of year. In religious observations, Christians celebrate Candlemas and in the Jewish faith, the day marks the 40th day after birth (Christmas) – the length of a time for a woman to be cleansed after a birth.

Over time, the celebration of early signs of spring has evolved in the U.S. to watching a groundhog emerge from his home to see if he casts a shadow …

Personally I love pausing a moment to enjoy the earlier sunrise on my morning commute or from my back deck.


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