Saturday, January 31, 2009

Groundhog Day in United States

The Official Punxsutawney Groundhog Club

Ever seen a groundhog? Does it really predict the coming of Spring?

I have my doubts, but it is a great tourist attraction for Punxsutawney, PA. They have a whole weekend of activities and specials that started yesterday. It's amazing what a groundhog can do for a town.

The groundhog phenomenon has been around in the US since the 1800's and the basic notion is if the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring. It's origins are little further back though. German tradition holds that if the sun comes out on Candlemas, which is February 2nd as well, the badger will see its shadow and six more weeks of winter will follow. When German settlers came to Pennsylvania they continued this tradition, using groundhogs instead of badgers to predict the weather.

And in case you weren't familiar with Candlemas Day, it is celebrated on February 2nd and marks the halfway point of winter, between the shortest day and the Spring, or vernal, equinox. It was the day the candles that were to be used in the church were blessed for the coming year. Candles were very important in ancient times, as many believed they staved off famine and the plague and warded against evil spirits.

The town of Punxsutawney, PA has a groundhog they named Phil around 120 years ago, and he's the groundhog to watch come February 2nd. There is even a Hollywood movie named "Groundhog Day".

I've never been one to heed the wisdom of a furry rodent, so I have my doubts. But there's even an Official Punxsutawney Phil's Souvenirs website so you too can get your souvenirs even if you can't make it out to Punxsutawney. I still think Spring will come on the equinox whether we want it to or not, no matter what Phil predicts.

Happy Groundhog Day!


Travis Erwin said...

We have no groundhogs here in the Texas Panhandle but we have thousands of prairie dogs.

Virginia Lady said...

Well, you know, Travis, since the German settlers thought it was okay to use the groundhog instead of a badger, I'm sure it'd be okay for you to use a prairie dog. Let me know the result you get and we'll see if it matches Phil.

Sepiru Chris said...

Virginia Lady,

I had forgotten about groundhog day! Thanks for reminding me.

They are not quite as dangerous as badgers, or frogs, yet, if they control the weather then folks in Kentucky will consider them dangerous enough...

Thanks for visiting, again, and leaving a note.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've never seen a groundhog either. Must be why we seem to have no winters at all.

Virginia Lady said...

Sepiru Chris, glad to help, and thank you for stopping by as well!

Charles, you can't fool me, you already told us you had snow there this year.

Today's Update: Phil saw his shadow, so 6 more weeks of winter is expected. Funny since it's 53 degrees here right now, not very winterish, but then they claim we're getting snow tonight.

BernardL said...

'Groundhog Day' is one of my favorite movies. I'm sorry Phil saw his shadow this year. :)

SQT said...

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Hope you like the book.