February 2, 2010 is a Cross-Quarter Day – it’s the half-way point between the Winter Solstice, which occurred at December 21, 2009 at 17:47 UTC and the Vernal or Spring Equinox which will occur on March 20, 2010 at 17:32 UTC. The exact midpoint, by my calculations, is actually at 40 minutes after midnight on February 3 local time (EST).
Many ancient cultures celebrated this day since it has an astronomical basis and, in Europe, is often taken as the beginning of spring. On the traditional Celtic calendar it’s called Imbolc and celebrated the goddess Brigid. On the Christian calendar, this is supplanted by St. Brigid’s Day after one of Ireland’s patron saints. Another Christian holiday, Candlemas, or the Feast of Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, also occurs at this time in February and is based on the Gospel account in Luke 2:22-40.
In the secular world, we have Groundhog Day, developed in Pennsylvania during the 18th century by German immigrants. It appears to have its roots in European weather lore but there a badger or a bear was the forecaster. Also, some people see ties to Imbolc since that Celtic holiday is also traditionally associated with weather prognostication.
Whatever you celebrate, we can all enjoy the fact that we’re half-way to the to the first official day of spring!