For those of us in the northern hemisphere, Imbolc happens on Feb 2, and in the southern hemisphere on July 30. Imbolc immediately follows Yule on the wheel of the year and is the first of the spring fertility sabbats, the other two being Ostara and Beltane. Imbolc celebrates the first signs of the coming spring. It has been a very mild winter where I live and we are indeed seeing the signs, although we would normally still have snow on the ground.
While doing research for this post, I learned something new (I love it when that happens). The crone will make winter last as long as she has firewood to keep her house warm. On Imbolc she goes out looking for more firewood. If the weather is good, she is able to gather lots of firewood, and she will be able to make winter last longer. If the weather is poor, she can't find enough firewood and will have to end winter early. When I read this story, I had a lightbulb moment. I had always wondered why the winter would last longer if the groundhog could see his shadow.
I hope everyone had a blessed Imbolc as we celebrate the return of spring!