Historically the month of February bears a special significance to the people in the North. This is evident through various traditions and rites prevalent in this part of the world for thousands of years.
Predicting the onset of the Spring had been a common practice even in the ancient times as much of the harvest
yield was hinged on the change on weather.
The ancient civilizations would greet this time of the year by performing rites to the rising
power of the springtime sun. And these rites were agricultural in nature and
performed mostly by the farmers.
The earlier Romans in the pre-Christian era celebrated February 1 as the Feast of Lights. Lighted torches were carried in procession in a springtime rebirth ritual. The tradition witnessed a carryover in the Christian era and was glorified by linking it with Christ. For, what we celebrate as the Groundhog Day these days has since long been celebrated as the Candlemas across Europe.
A clear, sunny day on a Candlemas was one of the worst things that could happen.
Fair conditions would bring at least forty more days of snowy, rigorous winter. On the other hand, an overcast and generally miserable Candlemas promised a fat and early summer.
An old tradition was that Christmas decorations were taken down by Candlemas. Though it is still kept in some places, but for the most part it has been set forward to January 6, the day of Epiphany. The 17th Century English poet Robert Herrick wrote concerning this removal:
Down with the Rosemary, and so
Down with the Baies, and mistletoe;
Down with the Holly, Ivie, all
Wherewith ye drest the Christmas Hall.
To leave them up longer was to invite bad luck. The plants were burned and their ashes along with the ashes of the Yule log, were cast upon the fields, giving the earth new powers to promote growth in the spring.
According to Greek mythology, Proserpine had been abducted into the underworld by Pluto. The goddess Ceres, her mother, and the
candle bearing celebrants searched for her in the winter darkness, bringing the reviving light was justifiably taken over by the Christian Church. The sacred light symbolized the Christ Child who was "a light for revelation to the Gentiles," and Mary was
the Mother of God - the Theotokas- the lightbearer". The Mother and Son thus shared equally in the festival of Candlemas.