So, last week, I kind of brought up the question of where Groundhog’s day came from. I was planning on writing this post last week, but life happens. I’m in AP English IV (where I have to read twelve books by next Friday), among other classes that I have. But now, on with the history.
The first Groundhog’s day was February 2, 1887 at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania where there is, to this day, a three-day celebration with the Punxsatawney Groundhog Club and that Phil’s (the first ground hog used) line is the only one that can actually “see the future” when it comes to the weather. The tradition behind it is that if a groundhog’s sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. The omen about there being six more weeks of winter sounds strange, but with the habits of groundhogs, it actual makes some sense.
Winter, according the the calender, ends two weeks into March in the Northern Hemisphere, which is six weeks after the prediction via groundhog. Groundhogs are hibernating animals which means that they sleep through the winter. Male groundhogs leave hibernation in early February and search for a mate. After this, they go back into hibernation until March, which fits the timeline of the prediction.
Although the Groundhog’s prediction falls into the hibernation schedule, the tradition of tracking the days until the end of winter did not start there.
In ancient Christian tradition, there was a holiday known as Candle-mas Day. This is the day where the church’s clergymen bless and distribute candles needed for the rest of winter, marking a milestone. In was believed that the weather present on that day, indicated the season. It was believed that if the day was dry, winter was still among the land, but if it was a wet day, spring had come. This tradition was then brought to the Germans, by the Roman people, who assigned the hedgehog as the animal to predict the weather. When those people started to migrate to America, the groundhog looked similar to the European hedgehog, so they decided to make the groundhog the new animal predicting the weather.
(If the links are wrong, please tell me so that I can fix them.)