The 2nd February is Candlemas, otherwise known in the Christian Calendar as "The Feast of Our Lady". It is also "Hedgehog Day".
Let me explain.
You may have seen the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. The film takes its title from the American custom which says that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and fails to see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end. If, however, the groundhog sees its shadow because the weather is bright and clear, it will be frightened and run back into its hole, and the winter will continue for six more weeks.
The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds of around 20,000 to 40,000 have gathered to celebrate the holiday.
Whilst we in the UK do not have an indigenous groundhog population, there is a similar superstition involving our spiky friend, the hedgehog, which says that on this day, the 2nd of February: "if a hedgehog casts a shadow at noon, winter will return".
It sounds a bit odd to me, because as we all know hedgehogs rarely come out during daylight hours anyway. Added to which I reckon it's about a month too early to expect any hedgehogs to emerge from hibernation. However, who am I to argue with an old folk tradition?
Read more on Mark North's excellent Dark Dorset blog.