Groundhog Day: History and Facts

Groundhog Day: History and Facts


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Candlemas

Falling midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, February 2 is a significant day in several ancient and modern traditions. The Celts, for instance, celebrated it as Imbolc, a pagan festival marking the beginning of spring.

As Christianity spread through Europe, Imbolc evolved into Candlemas, a feast commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the holy temple in Jerusalem. In certain parts of Europe, Christians believed that a sunny Candlemas meant another 40 days of cold and snow.

Germans developed their own take on the legend, pronouncing the day sunny only if badgers and other small animals glimpsed their own shadows. When German immigrants settled Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the custom with them, choosing the native groundhog as the annual forecaster.

READ MORE: Beyond Punxsutawney: Meet the Other Groundhogs

First Groundhog Day

The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters—known collectively as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club—on the idea.

The men trekked to a site called Gobbler’s Knob, where the inaugural groundhog became the bearer of bad news when he saw his shadow.

Nowadays, the yearly festivities in Punxsutawney are presided over by a band of local dignitaries known as the Inner Circle. Its members wear top hats and conduct the official proceedings in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. (They supposedly speak to the groundhog in “Groundhogese.”)

Every February 2, tens of thousands of spectators attend Groundhog Day events in Punxsutawney, a borough that’s home to some 6,000 people. It was immortalized in the 1993 film Groundhog Day, which was actually shot in Woodstock, Illinois.

How Accurate Are Groundhogs?

While sunny winter days are indeed associated with colder, drier air, we probably shouldn’t trade in our meteorologists for groundhogs just yet. Studies by the National Climatic Data Center and the Canadian weather service have yielded a dismal success rate of around 50 percent for Punxsutawney Phil.

Staten Island Chuck, on the other hand, is reportedly accurate almost 80 percent of the time.

What About Woolly Bears?

For the last 30 years, residents of Vermillion, Ohio, have turned to a very different creature for their annual weather forecast: the woolly bear caterpillar. According to tradition, if the bugs have more orange than black coloring in autumn, the upcoming winter will be mild.

More than 100,000 people attend the town’s Woollybear Festival, held every fall since 1972.

But woolly bear caterpillars aren’t the best prognosticators, either: While their bands may vary from year to year, researchers have found the variation is due to last year’s weather, not the upcoming winter.

Groundhog Facts

Also known as woodchucks, groundhogs belong to a group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. They grow up to 25 inches long and can live for 10 years in captivity. (According to legend, Punxsutawney Phil is more than 125 years old thanks to the magical punch he imbibes every summer.)

Groundhogs spend the winter hibernating in their burrows, significantly reducing their metabolic rate and body temperature; by February, they can lose as much as half their weight.

When they’re out and about, the bristly rodents eat succulent plants, wild berries and insects—and they don’t mind helping themselves to garden vegetables or agricultural crops.


Groundhog Day: The History & Facts You Didn’t Know

Groundhog Day is held annually on February 2 nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to the Groundhog Day tradition, if the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow after he comes out of his hole, there will be six more weeks of winter. On the other hand, if the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, it means we will be having an early spring.

I’ve always enjoyed the tradition surrounding Groundhog Day. It’s always exciting to see if Punxsutawney Phil will predict six more weeks of snow, or an early spring! However, not many people know the history behind this classic American tradition. That’s why I’ve decided to put together this Groundhog Day guide to help give you some valuable information behind this great event!


LOOK OUT BELOW!

Groundhogs often burrow under open areas such as meadows and farmlands, which can make the critter a real nuisance to farmers. Groundhogs destroy crops and create holes in the soil, which can damage tractors and injure livestock. (People aren't the only ones who trip—cows can stumble too!)

But burrows are super-important to groundhogs. They're where the rodents sleep, raise their babies, and even poop. (They actually have separate bathrooms!) Burrows also provide protection from predators such as coyotes, hawks, and black bears. And it's not just the groundhog that uses its burrow—animals such as rabbits, chipmunks, and snakes move in once a groundhog has moved out.


For the last 30 years, residents of Vermillion, Ohio, have turned to a very different creature for their annual weather forecast: the woolly bear caterpillar. According to tradition, if the bugs have more orange than black coloring in autumn, the upcoming winter will be mild.

More than 100,000 people attend the town’s Woollybear Festival, held every fall since 1972.

But woolly bear caterpillars aren’t the best prognosticators, either: While their bands may vary from year to year, researchers have found the variation is due to last year’s weather, not the upcoming winter.


Groundhog Day History Facts—Why Does it Matter Again?

Raise your hand if the words Groundhog Day make you think of Bill Murray. But no one ever really talks about Groundhog Day history facts. As much as we love the 1993 flick that gives new meaning to the term deja vu, we’ve been wondering what Groundhog Day is actually about. Clearly there’s more to it than crowds or people admiring a giant furry friend who looks kind of like a rat. What is Groundhog Day? Why does it exist and why does it matter?

Let’s start with the basics: the when. Groundhog Day takes place on February 2nd every year, which, believe it or not, is right around the corner. The what: it’s a holiday celebration when a groundhog predicts whether spring will come early or if winter will persist for another 6 weeks. Yes, seriously. According to folklore (and let’s be real, this sure sounds like a whole lot of hooey), if the groundhog emerges from its hole and sees its shadow (aka, it is sunny outside) then he will retreat back into his home and we’re stuck with more chilly winter weather. If it is cloudy outside and the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow then good news! Spring is on they way. And let us all say, amen.

When it comes to Groundhog Day information, the who (and the where): Punxsutawney Phil in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Legend has it that there has only ever been on true “Phil,” but since Groundhog Day has been celebrated at Gobbler’s Knob (Phil’s home) since 1887, we find that hard to believe. After all, groundhogs normally only live to be about 6-8 years old. And while there is an entire team of people called the Inner Circle who are dedicated to caring for Phil in the off-season, we’re still skeptical.

Read Related: Groundhog Day: A Fun Tradition with Ancient Roots

Ok, so that we have some Groundhog Day history facts covered, it’s February 2nd, what should you do? Well, you could go about your business or turn on the TV, which is guaranteed to be showing the movie “Groundhog Day” on repeat, or you could join the celebration. There will be news coverage, local festivals, or if you’re feeling adventurous you could even plan a trip to Gobbler’s Knob to witness the action in person. There is a celebration tent and festival, there’s even a Groundhog Ball if you’re feeling fancy.

So when it comes to Groundhog Day information how accurate is good ol’ Phil and what does this mean for you? His owners claim that he is right 100% of the time… after all you don’t get the nickname Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary by being wrong. But then again, he is a groundhog. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the groundhog shows “no predictive skill” based on the last few years. We’re going to go ahead and say that if our furry friend predicts an early spring, he’s right, and if he sees a prolonged winter, he’s wrong and we hate him. Call us a fair-weather fan if you must.


Groundhog Day: A History, And 5 Facts You Didn’t Know

Groundhog Day is held on Feb. 2, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every year, and you might be wondering how a groundhog landed the job of predicting the weather. If you’re unfamiliar with the tradition, it goes like this: If the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow, we’re stuck with six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, we luck out with an early spring.

The tradition dates back to 1887, and though the origins are unclear, it is said to have originated from ancient European weather lore in which a badger or sacred bear predicts the weather, rather than a groundhog. It also has religious origins, as it shares similarities with Candlemas Day, which is also on Feb. 2. According to an old English song, “If Candlemas be fair and bright,/ Come, Winter, have another flight.”

Punxsutawney Phil has definitely adapted to the times. He can now text you his Tuesday weather prediction. Just text “Groundhog” to 247365 on Groundhog Day.

States without groundhogs are taking matters into their own hands by choosing their own weather predictor. Texas, for example, chose its state mammal, an armadillo, to predict the weather for their first “Armadillo Day.” Only time will tell whether the groundhog or the armadillo is the true prognosticator.

Here are five facts you probably didn’t know about Groundhog Day:

1. Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow 97 times, has not seen it 15 times, and nine years are unaccounted for.

2.
The National Climatic Data Center reportedly stated that Phil’s prediction’s have been correct 39 percent of the time. This number is in conflict with Phil’s club, which states he’s been right 100 percent of the time.

3. According to the funny website groundhog.org, there’s a legend that during Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn’t allowed a drink.

4. In the years following the release of Groundhog Day, a 1993 film starring Bill Murray, crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill in Punxsutawney where the ceremony takes place.

5.
Though groundhogs typically live only six to eight years, Groundhog Day lore suggests that Phil drinks a magic elixir every summer, which gives him seven more years of life.


Top 10 Damn Interesting Facts About Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day Has a Fascinating History Behind Its Origin.

Groundhog Day is unlike any other holiday in the US. A small rodent comes out of the burrow, looks for its shadow, and based on it, predicts the end of winters. How crazy is that? Isn’t it? After all, that is what you saw in the Groundhog Day movie, right?

Well, if you think so, let us tell you that the origin of the Groundhog Day is based on the sleep cycle of hibernating animals. Usually, at the end of winters, these animals wake up from their sleep indicating the arrival of spring.

On similar lines, a special groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania comes out of its burrow every year on February 2. As per the tradition, if it sees its shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks. On the other hand, if it does not see its shadow, winter will end soon and spring is going to come early.

While you might already know this thing about Groundhog Day, you’ll be delighted to know these damn interesting facts about this unique holiday:

1. Groundhog Day originated from German custom which in turn had borrowed it from European tradition

German settlers in Pennsylvania began observing the tradition of observing hibernation of animals to anticipate the arrival of spring. Apparently, they borrowed it from European custom of observing hibernating animals to predict the end of winters and welcome the spring.

2. Hedgehog was originally chosen as the animal forecaster by Germans.

To celebrate the tradition, Germans had chosen hedgehog initially but they found groundhogs in large numbers in Pennysilvenia. So, they chose it as the official animal and the day began to be known as Groundhog Day.

3. The first official Groundhog Day ceremony took place on February 2, 1887, at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

It is from that day the groundhog became popular as Punxsutawney Phil and became the official groundhog forecaster. Phil has been making a prediction for over 120 years now. Groundhog Club, set up in 1880, takes care of the rodent as well as of all proceedings on February 2.

4. People ate groundhogs on the first Groundhog Day in 1887

Yes, that is true. On the first day, there were several groundhog dishes served to people in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. However, once the popularity of Phil began to rise, the Groundhog Club decided to eliminate groundhogs from the menu.

5. Full name of Groundhog- “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.”

Well, that is one cool name for a rodent, you have to agree!

6. Only president of the Groundhog Day club can understand the language of Phil

Phil speaks to the president of the Groundhog Club in “Groundhogese” after the prediction. The president then translates the message of Phil for the public.

7. The prediction of Phil have rarely found to be accurate (39% to be precise)

Although members of the Groundhog club claim the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil to be 100% true, meteorologists have never validated the claim. In fact, National Climatic Data Center studied the temperatures from 1988 to 2012 to check the predictions of Phil. As it turns out, they were true only 39% of the time.

8. In reality, a groundhog is not looking for its shadow when it comes out of the burrow.

Groundhogs are, in fact, looking for potential mates as they begin preparing for the mating season in March. You may even think of it as a Valentine’s Day for groundhogs.

9. Punxsutawney Phil does not live in the natural burrow.

Instead, it lives in a man-made shelter in conditions of controlled temperature. Groundhog club members usually take care of its needs and support it in the growing phase.

10. There are other Groundhogs in addition to Phil who make predictions about the spring

Punxsutawney Phil is not the only weather oracle animal out there. Canada also has its own groundhog named Wiarton Willie who has been predicting the arrival of spring since 1952. Similarly, Georgia, Alabama, Atlanta, and many other places have their own version of groundhog animal.

So, you see Groundhog Day is pretty interesting and fun holiday. You do not need any special arrangements, decorations, gifts, or any other things to celebrate this day. Just enjoy as you see people go crazy whether that little animal sees its shadow or not.

After all, whether late or early, winter is bound to end sometime paving way for the beautiful spring. And soon you’ll be immersed in the spirit of Easter. In fact, go ahead and check out these exciting Easter facts now!


Groundhog Day

This holiday is commemorated on February 2, on which Americans observe the groundhog emerge from its winter burrow to predict the remaining time of the winter season. If the groundhog returns to its burrow, folklore states that winter will last six more weeks. If the groundhog stays, it is believed that spring will come early. Many towns commemorate the holiday with festivals and gatherings to watch the groundhog.

The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil, the official groundhog of the holiday. He is named after the town that its home, Gobbler’s Knob, is close by. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, holds many events and ceremonies for Groundhog Day.

In ancient times, Germanic peoples believed that badgers had the ability to predict the weather, using this knowledge to plant crops. Even after communities stopped believing in the badger’s power to predict, tradition kept the practice alive.

Many German settlers ended up in Pennsylvania, where they found groundhogs instead of badgers. Here, the tradition began to use groundhogs to predict the duration of winter. If the day was cloudy, the groundhog would stay above ground, meaning that winter would soon be over. If the day was sunny, the groundhog would grow scared of its shadow and return to its burrow, meaning six more weeks of winter. It gradually evolved into an observance in the late nineteenth century and is closely associated with the Candlemas, a Christian celebration, the second day of which falls on February 1st.

Many towns, especially in Pennsylvania, hold local Groundhog Day events. These include:


Happy Groundhog Day! What is Groundhog Day? …

Fun Facts About Groundhog Day – The 1993 movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray took place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and made the holiday even more popular. – How accurate the predictions of the groundhogs are is up for debate.

Groundhog Day For Kids
Groundhog Day Wikipedia 2020 Groundhog Day is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis and written Groundhog Day has been adapted into a 2016 musical and a 2019 video in which the child behaves like Phil did at the start of the film, contrasting with �: The Greatest Year for Movies in the History of Movies Ever?”.


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Watch the video: Groundhog Day The Film 101


Comments:

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  2. Kiramar

    the phrase Brilliant and is timely

  3. Daibhidh

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