News Flash! Ground Hog’s Day, February 2, 2018: Put another log on the fire. Don’t bring out the gardening tools quite yet. In Gobler’s Knob, PA. today, the ground hog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. The prediction is that there will be six more weeks of winter!
Groundhog Day is celebrated in the U.S. each year on February 2. On this day in mid-winter, the groundhog awakens from a long winter’s nap, and goes outside of his den to see if he sees his shadow. This tradition is big, on an otherwise cold and dreary mid-winter’s day.
According to legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow (a sunny morning), there will be six more weeks of winter. He then returns to his den and goes back to sleep. If however, he does not see his shadow (cloudy days), he plays around outside of his hole for a while. If he does not see his shadow, spring is just around the corner.
The Groundhog’s Day tradition traveled long ways. It comes from German roots. In the early 1800’s, German immigrants to America, brought the tradition of predicting winter weather on February 2. In their native Germany, they used Hedgehogs to predict weather. As they settled in the hills of Pennsylvania, they began the tradition, using the Groundhog to predict the the arrival of Spring. The tradition is based upon Candlemas, the day that is the midpoint between Winter and Spring. A famous Candlemas poems goes:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is the site of the annual Groundhog event. Our little rodent friend (yes, Groundhogs are classified as rodents) is called Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making this annual winter prediction since 1887. There are a few other “predictors” around the country, but they all pale in comparison to Phil’s ability to predict the remainder of winter. For the Record Phil sees his shadow about 9 out of 10 times
Punxsutawney Phil is not the only one to come out on February 2 to make a prediction on when winter will be over. He is by far the best known. Others include:
- Buckeye Chuck in Ohio
- General Beauregard Lee in Georgia
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