Everything You Need to Know About Groundhog Day

Image of the groundhog on Groundhog Day in Pennsylvania.

Why do we celebrate Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is an unofficial holiday held annually on February 2. According to folklore, the groundhog is able to predict when the weather will transition from winter to spring.  It is said that if the groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow he will retreat back into its burrow. If this happens, the winter weather will continue for six more weeks. If the groundhog does not see his shadow, it will not retreat back into its burrow. If this happens, it is said that there will be an early spring and winter is coming to an end.

Which countries observe Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is essentially a cultural phenomenon that is celebrated in only two countries worldwide. The only two countries that currently observe Groundhog Day are Canada and the United States. The most famous Groundhog Day celebration occurs in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (image above). Thousands of people have gathered to observe the event in this small Pennsylvania town since the 1800s.

How did Groundhog Day begin?

This all sounds bizarre to the logical person. Two of the most well known countries in the world honor a rodent who supposedly has a magical ability to forecast the coming of future weather. However, Groundhog Day did not originate in the countries that currently observe it. The Groundhog Day official website states that this holiday stems from Candlemas Day traditions. Candlemas Day is a weather related Christian holiday that marks the middle of the season. This holiday originated in Europe and was brought to the United States by settlers from Germany. In Germany, a badger was used to predict farmers planting time. However, with the limited existence of badgers in Pennsylvania, immigrants turned to the groundhog, otherwise known as a woodchuck. Germans believed that the groundhog was the most sensible and intelligent animal capable of predicting the weather.

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