Roman celebrations of Lupercalia involved whipping women in the streets to encourage fertility. Image Source: Res Obscura.
It is Candlemas - not the Swedish Doom Metal band - and Groundhog Day. Both celebrations refer to the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox; this date has been celebrated under different guises since ancient times:
Lupercalia was an ancient festival; its celebration continued after the founding of Rome in 753 BCE. It was: "one of the most ancient of the Roman holidays (one of the feriae listed on ancient calendars from even before the time Julius Caesar reformed the calendar)." Lupercalia is also now associated with Valentine's Day; it referred to February as a period of spiritual cleansing. It was a sort of early spring cleaning of the soul. It demanded reexamination of one's actions and an expulsion of evil spirits. The Romans fashioned the date as a wolf festival: Lupa was the wolf that suckled the infant twins Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome. The details of the Lupercalia celebration - which you can read about here - were pretty weird. They make our modern Candlemas rituals and Groundhog Day festivities look nice and tame. Even so, the underlying message of all these holidays is identical.Candlemas primarily focuses on Jesus’ early life. Many Christians believe that Jesus’ mother Mary presented him to God at the Temple in Jerusalem after observing the traditional 40-day period of purification (of mothers) following his birth. According to a New Testament gospel, a Jewish man named Simeon held the baby in his arms and said that he would be a light for the Gentiles (Luke 2:32). It is for this reason that this event is called Candlemas.
Many people believe that some of Candlemas’ activities stem from pagan observances such as Imbolc [also known as St. Brigid's Day], a Gaelic festival, or the Roman feast of Lupercalia. However, others have argued that there is too little evidence to shed light on Candlemas’ substitution for these festivals. Either way, Candlemas occurs at a period between the December solstice and the March equinox, so many people traditionally marked that time of the year as winter’s “halfway point” while waiting for the spring.
The American movie Groundhog Day (1993), while ostensibly about the modern North American convention of watching a groundhog come out of hibernation, plainly depicted the ancient themes around this day. In the film, a weatherman covering the Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania Groundhog Day celebration becomes trapped in a time loop and is unable to move forward until he changes his priorities and values for the better. In 2006, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States National Film Registry.
Incidentally, according to StormFax Weather Almanac, the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, only predicts the early arrival of an early spring correctly 39% of the time. His success rate is pretty much in line with the success rates of other groundhogs employed for these purposes in the USA and Canada. Punxsutawney Phil's official Website is here.