Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day Quick Facts - US

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2024 DateFebruary 2, 2024
2025 DateFebruary 2, 2025

Groundhog Day

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Groundhog Day is an tradition where the reaction of a groundhog is used to predict the progression of winter. According to folklore, if the groundhog sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat back to its burrow, indicating six more weeks of winter. However, if there is no shadow due to overcast skies, it signifies an early spring.

The origin of Groundhog Day dates back to the ancient European celebration of Candlemas day, a midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Over time, German-speaking immigrants to America, known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, introduced the observance to the US. They replaced the hedgehog, originally used in medieval times, with the groundhog, native to their Pennsylvanian communities. Today, Groundhog Day remains a cultural curiosity and is majorly associated with the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, thanks to the 1993 Hollywood movie "Groundhog Day."

In the United States, the most famous celebration of Groundhog Day takes place in Punxsutawney, where thousands gather at Gobbler’s Knob. At sunrise, Punxsutawney Phil, the local celebrity groundhog, is coaxed out of his burrow to predict the season's length. The day is replete with music, food, and various entertainments designed to entertain the large crowds. This tradition is observed annually on the 2nd of February, a date chosen due to its proximity to Candlemas.

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Facts about Groundhog Day

  • The tradition of using an animal to predict the weather was brought to Pennsylvania by German immigrants. Groundhogs were used unlike in Germany where they instead used badgers and bears. The original German holiday Candlemas Day occurs on February 2nd between the Winter solstice and the spring equinox. If the sun comes out on that day, it means there will be six more weeks of winter.
  • The Groundhog emerges from his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow. If it is sunny and he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter and he will return to his hole. If it is cloudy and he does not see his shadow, he will stay above ground as spring is on its way.
  • Groundhogs, otherwise known as woodchucks, are rodents. They hibernate throughout the winter.
  • The first Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A local newspaper editor, Clymer Freas, convinced his friends-known as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, for their love of hunting groundhogs - to visit Gobbler's Knob. After observing a groundhog emerge from his hole, they determined that seeing his shadow was a bad omen and meant there were at least six more weeks of winter.
  • Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. - Maori Proverb.

Top things to do in the US for Groundhog Day

  • Watch Phil emerge from his hole live via television.
  • Watch the movie Groundhog Day (1993) starring Bill Murray.
  • Visit Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and see Phil the groundhog in person.
  • Make a bet with yourself: If he sees his shadow - complete one chore, if he doesn't see his shadow - treat yourself to something fun.
  • Host a Groundhog Day party. Record the emergence of Phil from his hole and play it back at the party. Several days before the party, have all of the attendees send in their prediction regarding whether Phil will see his shadow. Have small prizes for the winners.

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