Groundhog Day is coming up on February 2nd. My youngest boy has been learning about these critters at school so I thought it would be fun to share some of the facts he is learning about groundhogs.
Groundhog Day is celebrated in the US on February 2nd
The holiday is based on folklore and says that if the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there will be an early Spring. The tradition is based on the ancient Candlemas Day where people would ask the church to bless their candles that they would have enough to make it through the rest of the cold winter months and in the hopes that Spring would come early.
The first Groundhog Day in the United States was celebrated in 1886 in Punxsutawney, PA. The newspaper, Punxsutawney Spirit, was the first newspaper to print information about the February 2nd celebration.
The first Groundhog Day celebrations were done with only a few townspeople in the woods outside of Punxsutawney. Today, thousands of people attend the Groundhog Day Celebration in Punxsutawney, PA that happens in the center of town in a place called Gobbler’s Knob. There are other Groundhog Day celebrations around the country, as well, but Punxsutawney continues to claim that their event is the original.
Predicting the Weather?
German settlers thought groundhogs were the smartest animals in the area, so they used them to start predicting the weather. Traditionally, hedgehogs were used to predict the weather in Germany, but the settlers couldn’t find any hedgehogs in Pennsylvania. They thought that the groundhog looked similar enough, so they began using it as a weather prediction tool in the winter.
Valentine’s Day means love for animals too!
Male groundhogs actually come out of hibernation in February to look for a mate. Groundhogs are one of the true hibernators and their heartbeat goes down to only five beats per minute! Male groundhogs don’t come out to predict the weather in February though. They come out of hibernation, because they’re looking for a mate!
There’s a movie based on Groundhog Day.
There was a comedy made in 1993 called Groundhog Day that’s based on the Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, PA. In it, a weatherman continues to relive February 2nd over and over again. Although it’s about Punxsutawney, PA, the movie was actually filmed in Illinois.