The "seeing of shadows" custom comes from beliefs expressed in various rhymes:
"If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year."Basically, if the sun shines on February 2, it's only a brief respite before winter closes back in. But if it's a grey or rainy day, winter is still working its way through, but spring should follow soon after.
"If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again."
In Germany badgers and hedgehogs traditionally "saw their shadows"; in the New World the ubiquitious groundhog, a.k.a. the woodchuck, a member of the marmot family, gained the honor.
The "official" groundhog of the United States is Punxsatawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog who found even more fame with the release of the Bill Murray film, Groundhog Day. Phil's official website:
The Official Site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club
There are other regional groundhogs; Phil's Southern counterpart, General Beau Lee, lives at the Yellow River Game Ranch.
There's even a Canadian groundhog, who is unusual because he's an albino: here's Wiarton Willie's Website.
This CBC article reveals a little secret about Willie!
Lore, poetry, recipes and more for Imbolc.