Happy Groundhog Day! I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure that shadow or no shadow, the groundhog stuck his little nose out of his hole today and will NOT come out again until June! After all, it’s a balmy minus 16 degrees as I write this post!
Groundhog Day is such as strange tradition (to put all our hopes and trust in a furry rodent that is often more of a garden pest than a desirable critter) that I thought I would find out where this practice came from.
• February 4, 1841, Pennsylvania storekeeper James Morris wrote in his diary in Morgantown, Berks County: “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”
• The legend comes from poems in Scotland, England, and Germany, that predict longer or shorter winters depending on the weather on Candlemas Day:
If Candlemas Day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul,
The half o' winter's gane at Yule.
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.
• According to folklore, Germans originally watched a badger for his shadow on that day. When they settled in Pennsylvania, the groundhog replaced the badger.
• The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The local newspaper, The Punxsutawney Spirit, printed the proclamation "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow."
• Another explanation of the origin of the day is that about 1,000 years ago, before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the spring equinox fell on March 16. This was exactly six weeks after February 2.
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