(courtesy of Guest Author, Grace Sammons)
Groundhog, groundhog, in your burrow, do we get to spring forward or will you see your shadow?
With spring just around the corner, it’s that wonderful time of year where we look to our furry forecaster, the groundhog, to see if spring is here early or if we have 6 more weeks of winter. So why exactly do we do this? It’s actually quite an interesting story!
Groundhog Day is a very old annual tradition dating back to 1887! The unique holiday is celebrated on the 2nd of February each year and it is said that when the male groundhog comes out from hibernation to find a mate, if he sees his shadow, this scares him and he will disappear back into his burrow predicting 6 more weeks of oh so chilly weather. However, if mister groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, he will stay above ground and it is predicted that spring will come early!
So just what is the history of this interesting tradition? The origins of the holiday actually date back further than 1887. The holiday we celebrate today, originates from an older Christian holiday called Candlemas Day. Candlemas is the commemoration of the presentation of Jesus as well as the purification of the virgin Mary 40 days after Jesus was born. On this day Christians would bring candles to church and have them blessed as a way to bring blessings to their household for the remainder of the winter. The amount of candles would depend on the predicted length of the winter.
Later this tradition was brought to Germany and they decided to introduce an animal to the lore. But the animal used was not a groundhog, instead their furry friend was a hedgehog. It wasn’t until German settlers came to what is now Pennsylvania, that the groundhog became the face of the tradition. The reason for this is because the United States actually doesn’t see many hedgehogs.
Mister Groundhog is one popular guy and has different names throughout North America, some of which are Phil the Punxsutawney groundhog (America’s most famous weather predicting groundhog), Birmingham Bill, Staten Island Chuck, and Canada’s famous Shubenacadie Sam.
So do you think Phil will see his shadow on the first Groundhog Day of the decade? If you’re not in Punxsutawney to wait and see, be sure to tune in to find out! https://www.groundhog.org/