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February 2nd is Groundhog Day

February 2nd is Groundhog Day

February 2 is Groundhog Day. Many of the holidays we celebrate based on traditions that are thousands of years old.

Knowledge was passed down from generation to generation and what little was written down has long since aged to nothingness.  There are usually several theories about the origins of holidays floating around on the internet, and who is to say which ones (if any) are “correct.”

History of Groundhog Day

In ancient times, people celebrated the midway point between the winter solstice (the first day of winter) and the spring equinox (the first day of spring). They believed that if the weather that day were sunny, the test of the winter would be cold and stormy.  If the weather on that day was cloudy, warm weather was coming.

In the area of Europe that is now Germany, thousands of years ago, people believed that the badger had the power to predict the weather. German immigrants that arrived in Pennsylvania found that there were a lot more groundhogs than there were badgers, so they switched animals in the 1800s.

Other sources connect Groundhog Day with Candlemas Day. In Europe in the early days of Christianity, the clergy blessed candles and passed them out to people on the midway point between winter and spring. The weather on that day was thought to be an indicator as to how the weather would be for the rest of the winter.

Br’er Groundhog

The most famous Groundhog Day celebration in the United States started with the first trip up to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on February 2, 1887. Who is Br’er Groundhog?  That was Punxsutawney Phil’s name before he was renamed Phil after King Philip. During the celebration, Phil emerges from his simulated tree-trunk home, and everyone watches with bated breath to see if he sees his shadow. If he sees his shadow the rest of the winter will have winter-type weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there will be warmer temperatures leading into spring.

Where does Phil hang out the rest of the year? He lives in a man-made burrow in the middle of Punxsutawney where tourist can watch his activity. He also goes out on field trips to schools.

To see more information about Phil, visit the official website:

http://www.groundhog.org/

Are Phil’s Predictions Reliable?

Here is a web site that has charts comparing his predictions to the actual weather.

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/customer-support/education-resources/groundhog-day

Other Groundhog Celebrities.

Phil may be the most widely known forecasting groundhog, but he is not the only one. Here are a few others:

Octorara Orphie  (Quarryville, Pennsylvania)

Pierre C. Shadeaux the Cajun Groundhog (Iberia Parish, Louisiana)

Woody (Howell, MI)

Holtsville Hal (Holtsville, NY)

Malverne Mel (Malverne,  NY)

Jimmy The Groundhog (Sun Prairie, WI)

Sir Walter Wally (Raleigh, NC)

Buckeye Chuck (Marion, OH)

Chattanooga Chuck (Chattanooga, TN)

Dunkirk Dave (Dunkirk, NY)

General Beauregard Lee (Lilburn, GA)

Staten Island Chuck (Staten Island, NY)

Not all of them are live groundhogs or even groundhogs!

These two have been stuffed (How can a stuffed animal see his shadow?)

Ridge Lea Larry (Buffalo, New York)

Unadilla Bill (Unadilla, Nebraska)

Some have people inside:

French Creek Freddie (French Creek, West Virginia)

Tennessee Groundhog (Silver Point, Tennessee) rides a motorcycle.

Kathryn

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