Happy Groundhog Day to homeschoolers everywhere!
The humorous holiday of Groundhog Day (February 2nd each year) presents a surprisingly rich educational opportunity. However it may be celebrated — with groundhogs (or woodchucks) forecasting the weather in the United States, or with badgers doing the same in Europe — what the February 2nd date in fact marks is the midpoint or “cross-quarter day” of the astronomical season of winter: the midpoint between the winter solstice in December and the spring equinox in March. The River Houses calendar follows the “meteorological seasons” rather than the astronomical seasons, so our winter cross-quarter day (our homeschool “Groundhog Day”) was January 14th, the midpoint of our winter term, Orion Term (December–February).
If there are four astronomical seasons (quarters), there must be four astronomical cross-quarter days, and that’s the case: Groundhog Day (February 2nd, for winter), May Day (May 1st, for spring), Lammas or wheat harvest (August 1st, for summer, the least-remembered cross-quarter day in the U.S.), and Halloween/All Hallows (October 31st/November 1st, for fall). On the Christian calendar, Groundhog Day corresponds to feast day of Candlemas, also called the Feast of the Presentation.
Here’s a good account of the history of the winter cross-quarter day from the astronomers at the U.S. Naval Observatory — have your students read this aloud to you today and they’ll discover a whole new landscape of seasonal learning.
What calendrical events have you and your students been marking and what educational discoveries have you been making in your homeschool this Orion Term? 😊
❡ Here, said the year: This is one of our regular posts about Homeschool Holidays & History. Add your name to our weekly River Houses mailing list to get more great homeschool history lessons delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 📫
❡ Homeschool calendars: We have a whole collection of free, printable, educational homeschool calendars and planners available on our main River Houses calendar page. They will help you create a light and easy structure for your homeschool year. Give them a try today! 🗓
❡ Support our work: If you enjoy our educational materials, please support us by starting your regular Amazon shopping from our very own homeschool teaching supplies page. When you click through from our page, any purchase you make earns us a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping us to keep going and growing! 🛒
❡ Join us! The aim of the River Houses project is to create a network of friendly local homeschool support groups — local chapters that we call “Houses.” Our first at-large chapter, Headwaters House, is now forming and is open to homeschoolers everywhere. Find out how to become one of our founding members on the Headwaters House membership page. 🏡