Early Morning Open Thread: Happy Candlemas


Also known as Imbolc, the cross-quarter day balanced between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Or St. Bridget’s Day, or the Festival of the Purification, or Groundhog Day.

And long before groundhogs, this bit of folk legend:

If Candlemas be bright and clear,
There’ll be two winters in the year;
If Candlemas bring wind and rain,
Old winter shall not come again!

Apart from practicing meteorology without a license, what’s on the agenda today?

79 replies
  1. 1
    Keith G says:

    Cool connection. I love reading histories from the very early middle ages in Europe as the foundations of western culture was cobbled together from the many dozens of local cultures extant at that time.

  2. 2
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Keith G: oh some of it goes back further than that…

  3. 3

    Happy Candlemas/Groundhog Day to everyone!

    I’m going to downtown Miami today to celebrate Flaglerfest, which is an annual gig on Flagler Street to bring people to the central business district. My car club is hosting a car show, and we’re raising funds for the Olympia Theatre, a part of the Gusman Center for the Arts. If you’re there, stop by the Antique Auto Club registration and say hi.

  4. 4
    Xenos says:

    Here in central Lotharingia it is bright but not quite sunny. There is just enough overcast that there is no shadow apparant on the ground as one walks, so Punxatawny Phil would conclude that our winter is pretty much over. The local soccer clubs have given notice that outdoor practices will resume in a week, and the Rugby teams were out in force practicing this morning.

    The young children will celebrate Lichtmessdag tonight. They go out with handmade lanterns they make in school, knock on doors, sing traditional songs, and get candy. It is like Halloween, but celebrated on the second of February.

    The tradition dates from the 14th century, when it was part of a ritual meant to keep the plague at bay. The village I live in was abandoned for three hundred years the last time the plague came around here, so let’s hope it works this time.

  5. 5
    Raven says:

    Tamale construction!

  6. 6
    Rosie Outlook says:

    What happens if Candlemas brings two days’ worth of snow? Does that count as “wind and rain”?

  7. 7
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Daybreak in Philly. The sky is quite clear this morning. I would predict 6 more weeks of winter but we haven’t actually had a winter yet.

    This whole winter has felt like April in Cleveland, when it can be quite cold and quite warm and . . . .

    But happy Candlemas to everyone, anyway.

  8. 8
    Raven says:

    It is 25 and clear as a bell. No competition for outdoor seating at the bakery this morning!

  9. 9
    redshirt says:

    I just saw a giant woodpecker silhouetted by the rising sun. It was striking.

    I think he saw his shadow though. Bummer.

  10. 10
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:

    Pinned in bed under the housecat. Was just able to reach the Nexus 7 to communicate with the outside world. Still not enough light to gauge the day, but it is 14° outside in NoVa! Will catch up on the news and negotiate for my release. Though the housecat may be right that it is best to stay in bed.

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    I see the liberal War on Groundhogs continues on.

    Keep the Groundhog in Groundhog Day!

  12. 12
    wormtown says:

    Today is the 41st anniversary of my brother’s death. He was killed in Vietnam. So, I’m remembering him. Sorry to be a bummer….but just wanted to mention it. It’s always weird for me all the stuff about groundhog day.

  13. 13
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mustang Bobby: Is that near the Bayside shopping area? When my friends still lived in Boca Raton, I went down to Miami at least once each visit and spent the day at Bayside and then took a bus to South Beach. (Lunch at Bayside and dessert at South Beach.)

  14. 14
    Elizabelle says:

    @Steeplejack (tablet):

    Will the housecat let you out for drinks on February 11th?

    @wormtown: I’m glad you are here and told us that. RIP.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    Link on former first dog Barney passing, with pic of oil painting done by GWB.

    It’s actually rather good. Note the signature.

    So that’s what he’s been doing in retirement.

  17. 17
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:


    Saw the thread yesterday. I have a meeting that evening, which I am seeing if I can reschedule or get out of.

  18. 18
    redshirt says:

    @Elizabelle: You know who else like to make oil paintings?

  19. 19
    Raven says:

    @wormtown: Don’t apologize. I have a number of days like that One of my best buddies was killed on Nov 22, 1968 and that is the day JFK was killed just to help me remember. It would be far worse if you forgot.

  20. 20
    Raven says:

    @wormtown: Your brother was Air Force?

  21. 21
    Elizabelle says:



    I feel sympathy for W on the loss of his “little pal.” W is human in a way that his VP is not.

  22. 22
    mai naem says:

    I heard a quikc blurb on XMPOTUS yesterday and never heard anything again. They said the Repubs said they are going to hold Richard Cordray’s nomination for head of the CFPB. Anybody heard anymore about it?

    Also, Wash Mo. linked to an NRA page with organizations, individuals and corps who are anti-gun. It’s a crazy list. Tara Lipinksi the former gymnast is on the list. As are Sylvester Stallone,Ellen Degeneres, Clive Davis,Arlene Dahl, David Duchovny. It’s a loong list with people you’ve never even heard of taking a stand.http://nraila.org/Issues/FactS.....aspx?ID=15

  23. 23
    Poopyman says:

    So Punxsutawney Phil has declared an early spring, even though it’s currently 8 degrees F in Punxsutawney with a 100% chance of snow.

    I blame Obama.

  24. 24
    PurpleGirl says:

    @mai naem: Correction: Tara Lipinski was an ice skater. An Olympic medalist.

  25. 25

    That Candlemas poem fits into the Groundhog Day legend. After all, it’s a bright sunny day that would let the groundhog see its shadow.

  26. 26
    magurakurin says:

    Tomorrow, Feb. 3, is 節分, setsubun, here in Japan. People eat maki sushi, and ceremonially toss dried soy beans out of and into the house while saying “oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” which means “the devil out and good fortune in.” Then, Feb 4 is 立春、the first day of Spring on the old traditional Japanese calendar. True to form, today was very springlike here, warm and damn near 70 I reckon. The warm south wind brought waves as well. Colder tomorrow they say, but I’m heading out to look for waves. My mates got some of the swell today and I’m hoping for some leftovers tomorrow.

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Baud says:


    An inquiry began when a tutor noticed identical answers to a take-home exam for an undergraduate politics course.

    I assume they were asked to leave for being too stupid for Harvard.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Amen, brother.

  31. 31
    Poopyman says:

    @Baud: Take-home exam for a politics course? What did they expect?

  32. 32
    Baud says:


    I guess it makes more sense than a take-home exam for a mathematics course…

  33. 33

    […] Early Morning Open Thread: Happy Candlemas (balloon-juice.com) […]

  34. 34
    NotMax says:

    Perhaps this explains some of the more – ahem – bestial commenters encountered online:

    They swipe, tap and scroll with ease.

    Orangutans at the National Zoo have mastered the iPad so well, in fact, that they’ve developed favorite apps.  Source

  35. 35
    Schlemizel says:


    I had a very good friend from high school and a cousin who died there and I know how angry that makes me – I can’t imagine if had be one of my brothers. I hope you can enjoy memories of the good times and that makes the pain a bit better.

  36. 36
    Poopyman says:

    @Baud: I’ve HAD take-home exams for math and physics. That, to me, makes more sense than for a politics course.

  37. 37
    Baud says:


    How did the school deal with identical answers on the exams?

  38. 38
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I assume they were asked to leave for being too stupid for Harvard.

    Anyone who finds it necessary to cheat on a take home exam is too stupid (And lazy) for life, let alone Harvard.

  39. 39
    Baud says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    There’s always a home for them in the GOP.

  40. 40
    Poopyman says:

    @Baud: Well, of course there would only be one right answer, sort of. The point was to show your work – where you would use a power series expansion, which one, etc. It would be fairly easy for a professor to tell where there was collusion – especially with only 8-20 students in the course.

    ETA: I hated, hated, HATED take-home exams, because they were harder than in-class exams by an order of magnitude. And no time limit.

  41. 41
    Valdivia says:


    I have given my students take home exams on latin american politics. Its built as an essay exercise, trying to think analytically about the bulk of the course, so it’s how you build the questions.

  42. 42
    Rosie Outlook says:

    Worm town, my condolences on the loss of your brother.

  43. 43
    dmsilev says:

    @Baud: When I was in college, I had math courses that had take-home exams. The problems were sufficiently elaborate, with long enough solutions, that it would be abundantly clear if people worked together. And the professor made a point of mentioning that to us at the beginning of the course.

    And in grad school, some of the exams were take-home with the expectation that you would talk about them with your classmates.

  44. 44
    GxB says:

    I guess I can’t be a card carrying conservative as I just learned something new. Never much thought about why Feb 2 was somehow deemed special, so now I have yet another factoid squirreled away.

    Also interesting though unrelated (open thread so meh) as we keep asking for a little meteor – well we’ll almost got our wish on Feb 15 of this year. Juuuuust a bit outside…

  45. 45
    balconesfault says:

    People are not having fee fees that Hagel once noted that people in Washington are intimidated by the pro-Israel lobby.

    If people weren’t intimidated by the pro-Israel lobby, would AIPAC have any contributors?

  46. 46
    Baud says:

    @Poopyman: @dmsilev:

    Understood. I never made it past Calculus I, so I was thinking in simpler terms.

  47. 47
    quannlace says:

    So Punxsutawney Phil has declared an early spring, even though it’s currently 8 degrees F in Punxsutawney with a 100% chance of snow.

    Well, it’s kind of hard to see your shadow when you’re buried under a snow drift.

    I;m surprised some cable station hasn’t thought of having a 24 hr. ‘Groundhog Day’ movie marathon, ala ‘A Christmas Story.’

  48. 48
    brettvk says:

    I drove home from work this morning in a sudden sleetstorm after a spectacular, glowering red dawn, so I’m quite hopeful about an early spring. But I think it’ll be another drought year in the Ozarks, and we might have to start worrying about forest fires.

  49. 49
    Hill Dweller says:

    @mai naem:

    I heard a quikc blurb on XMPOTUS yesterday and never heard anything again. They said the Repubs said they are going to hold Richard Cordray’s nomination for head of the CFPB. Anybody heard anymore about it?

    I’ve heard nothing about it, but wouldn’t be surprised if the wingnuts did block his confirmation.

    That said, I think it’s a fight the Obama administration would love to have. Cordray has done a lot of good work in his time there, including recovering money for consumers from credit card companies. It won’t be hard for the administration to paint the Republicans as supporters of the credit card/mortgage companies at consumers expense.

  50. 50
    RossinDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    Drove home from Kokomo last night. It’s always a little alarming to be in my own house after living in hotels. Everything here at home seems so big and far apart.

    But I head back to Kokomo on Monday, and at the rate things are going, may never leave.
    Two weeks until my trip to Germany.

  51. 51
    Steeplejack says:


    AMC is showing it all day, starting now.

  52. 52
    Schlemizel says:


    Somebody had a 24 hours of “Ground Hogs Day” last year! AMC? maybe. I have not turned on the TV but figured it would happen again

  53. 53
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I drove home from work this morning in a sudden sleetstorm after a spectacular, glowering red dawn, so I’m quite hopeful about an early spring.

    That “glowering red dawn” is a nice, evocative, turn of phrase. Well done!

  54. 54
    quannlace says:

    AMC is showing it all day, starting now.

    Thanks. I’ll make my turkey sandwich and have an early lunch

  55. 55
    piratedan says:

    @amk: well so much for the future cadre of Faux News Young Republicans…

  56. 56
  57. 57
    piratedan says:

    @Hill Dweller: i’ve never understood this anti-regulation line… if the regulations are in place to be the “rules” so to speak and you run a good and honest company, why would you be against them? Those rules are in place to punish those guys who cheat their customers or perform acts of perfidy that affect us all (dumping chemicals into the ground table anyone?). You would think that the business community would welcome those rules to ensure an even playing field and let the free market decide, etc etc etc

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @magurakurin: Happy Setsubun!

    As for here in Ohio…

    In the early mornin’ snow
    With a shovel in my hand
    And an achin’ in my back
    And my driveway full of sand…

  60. 60
    PurpleGirl says:

    @jeffreyw: I wonder how long that took to make and if that was from a catering company? If an individual made it for their own party, I hope their friends understand the work and thinking that went into it and appreciate it.

  61. 61
    Steeplejack says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    Must give you kudos for your joke in the Bay Buchanan thread. I read that late, but I’m still chuckling over it.

  62. 62
    JGabriel says:

    From the No One Could Have Predicted Department:

    In the spirit of the bipartisan [filibuster] reforms the Senate passed last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and over 40 of his members are vowing to block confirmation of a permanent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director unless Democrats agree to pass legislation dramatically weakening the agency.

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU, to find Republicans breaking their word!


  63. 63
    Anya says:

    @mai naem: Included on the crazy NRA’s “Enemies List”:

    Andy Williams – dead since September 2012
    Nora Ephron – dead since June 2012
    The Temptations – when was the last time you heard anything about them

    NRA is run by really deranged people. I don’t know how they managed to create the kind of a mystique that enabled them to scare politicians of both parties to that level.

  64. 64
    RossinDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:


    Business claim that complying with regulations places a burden on them and costs money. The paperwork & inspections, recordkeeping & stuff. So do away with all that because any cost imposed on the Job Creators costs us all in lost productivity. Or that’s their line of reasoning.

  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:


    It looks like we can put one more small checkmark on the embarrassingly short “good” side of W’s ledger — Bob the cat is awfully cute.

  66. 66
    Todd says:


    AMC is doing just that – a Groundhog Day marathon.

    Today, I clean house, go to the YMCA, and go to Best Buy or the Apple Store to replace the paper thin, tiny ass, easily lost, indispensable remote for my Apple TV.

    After hours playing with Apple’s free Remote app, one purchased secondary market app, and a shitload of irritation, I learned that you can’t link the iPad or iPhone to the module for control purposes without possessing the remote for the setup.


  67. 67
    jeffreyw says:

    @PurpleGirl: You are right that it took a lot of time to put together. I have no idea who made it or when. Saw it while browsing the Reddit food porn subreddit, where I have a sammich that is drawing fire.

  68. 68
    Suffern ACE says:

    @mai naem: its not even a list that puts someone in bad company.

  69. 69
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Poopyman: the problem wasn’t so much that the answers the kids arrived at were coincidently the same, but that they were the same and written by ALEC.

  70. 70
    YellowJournalism says:

    This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You’re hypocrites, all of you!

    Happy Goundhog Day!

  71. 71
    danielx says:

    Snow. And cold. Did I mention snow?

    Aside from that, waiting for the IU-Michigan game this evening which will end up in an IU victory, just like the other night when they crushed Purdue like a grape…

  72. 72
    Schlemizel says:


    They got it by doing something our side has never done, or at least never done well & reliably – drive voters to select candidates based solely on one issue. Even the anti-choice crowd cannot claim a record close to that of the NRA. Add huge wads of cash & you have produced a most powerful lobby.

    The day gun safety advocates turn elections base only on the candidates positions on gun safety the NRA will cease to matter.

  73. 73
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:


    They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You’re hypocrites, all of you!

    My wife’s family is from Punxy and you’re exactly right. Her great-great uncle helped found Groundhog Day. He published the account of his friends who used to go out to a hunting cabin, grab a groundhog, skin it and eat it. The AP picked up the story and the rest is history.

    Whiskey may have been involved.

  74. 74
    Brachiator says:

    They’ve got the movie Groundhog Day on in the break room, so I thought this repost might be in order:

    A while back, commenter redshirt posted the following about the film Groundhog Day.

    I heard a theory about “Groundhog Day” that the Bill Murray character was trapped in that loop for 10,000 years. Or so. Imagine the torture! Which is depicted in the film, right? It’s really kinda scary to think about it.

    Tech writer and Sun Times columnist Andy Ihnatko has tremendous fondness for this film, and expanded on his view that this is one of the best holiday films on his own podcast, the Ihnatko Almanac. Fun listening, although I don’t know if I quite go with his idea that you can view the film as a variation of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Still, the podcast deserves a listen and the reference links are amazing.

    A little gem is the book, available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook, Danny Rubin’s “How to Write Groundhog Day.”

    Why aren’t all movies as good as “Groundhog Day”? Did screenwriter Danny Rubin know what he was doing when he wrote it? That it would star Bill Murray and become a hit? That it would become a touchstone for major religions? That psychologists would come to prescribe the movie to their patients? Follow this unique screenplay’s exciting journey through agents, directors, studios, stars and the writer’s own confused brain to emerge as one of the most delightful and profoundly affecting comedies of all time. For movie lovers and screenwriters alike, “How To Write Groundhog Day” includes the original screenplay, notes, scene sketches, and a personal tour of the Hollywood writing process from this popular screenwriting teacher.

    A couple of ideas about the screenplay that got rejected would have resulted in an absolutely terrible and unsatisfying movie. It is interesting to see some of the luck that sometimes rescues a film from itself and nudges it into near classic status.

    Equally fun is the blog piece “The Groundhog Day Buddhism Sutra,” a fun take on the spiritual aspects of the movie.

    I always found this bit of dialog from the movie intriguing.

    Phil: I’m a god.

    Rita: You’re God?

    Phil: I’m a god. I’m not *the* God… I don’t think.

    If you were stuck with all the time in the world in a single location, what would you do with it?

    ETA: the blogs, podcasts and other works of character actor Stephen Tobolowsky, who plays the annoying insurance agent in the film, are an absolute blast. Check ’em out.

  75. 75
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Brachiator: The next best part of the Go conversation is when he wonders if God is all-knowing because he’s been around for a long time.

    I read about Rita originally being his partner in having to deal with the days repeating. That would have turned the movie into a horrible Tom-com variation and less of a personal journey. I did like the idea of him keeping track of time by reading pages out of books and makin his way through the entire library.

    If I had to relive a day in one location, it would be a university. Lots of access to knowledge and skill boosters. Sit in on some classes, pick profeasors brains, play wih expensive equipment, and then go drinking. And I would steal his piano lesson idea.

  76. 76
    wormtown says:

    @Raven: army, COE. Building bridges.

  77. 77
    Brachiator says:


    I read about Rita originally being his partner in having to deal with the days repeating.

    Another screenplay draft idea was even worse than this one.

    If I had to relive a day in one location, it would be a university. Lots of access to knowledge and skill boosters. Sit in on some classes, pick profeasors brains, play wih expensive equipment, and then go drinking. And I would steal his piano lesson idea.

    So, after 100 years, you are wicked smart and a heckuva piano player.

    Now, what?

  78. 78

    @PurpleGirl: It’s across Biscayne Blvd. from Bayside. We get a lot of people who have come off the cruise ships and go for a stroll downtown now that it is not as decrepit as it used to be.

  79. 79
    redshirt says:

    @Brachiator: It is in incredible scenario. Suicide would be a blessing! As seen in the film, but for naught. I like that idea – maybe “The” God has just been around a long, long time. Too long, really. He’s gone mental.

    I’d be surprised if anyone could come out of it sane. I mean, it’s not like Phil knew if he could just Rita to sincerely love him he’d break out of it. I imagine after the first, oh, 1000 years or so you’d pretty much give up hope.

    I’d go mad, I’m fairly certain.

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