We observe the Groundhog Day on February 2. This celebration is based on German folkloric beliefs. On this day, the groundhog comes out of its winter burrow and predicts how much time remained till the end of winter season. In case the groundhog comes back into the burrow, it means that the winter will last six weeks more (commonly such an observation takes place if the day is sunny – the groundhog returns to its burrow being scared of its own shadow). If the groundhog stays on the surface, folklore states that spring will come soon (usually it happens on a cloudy day). The observation of the groundhog’s behavior takes place in many American towns. Festivals and gatherings are held while people are waiting to learn what weather to expect.
The tradition to observe animals’ behavior at the end of winter has come from the ancient Germans. Back then, people considered badgers to be able to predict the weather. This knowledge was used to learn the time when to plant crops. When German settlers came to live in Pennsylvania, they started to use groundhogs instead of badgers to foretell the winter duration. The celebration soon became associated with the Candlemas, a Christian celebration that falls on the 1st of February.
Even though today most people don’t believe that animals can give a weather forecast, the tradition remains, and we still watch the groundhog on February 2, hoping that it will predict early spring.
Groundhog Day Events
Groundhog Day is held in many American towns. Two of the most well-known celebrations are held in:
- Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania: it is the most famous one. Punxsutawney has been observing the holiday since 1886. The groundhog in this town is even considered to be the official groundhog of the festival. His name is Phil, and he lives at Gobbler’s Knob, a park outside the town. Many ceremonies and events are held for the Groundhog’s Day in Punxsutawney. Several days before the main event, they arrange a ball and get over 4 thousand guests. The emergence of Phil from his burrow is often broadcasted on TV.
- Quarryville, Pennsylvania: it also offers a nice and unique celebration. Citizens of the town combine the Groundhog Day with Fersommling – another celebration that is held to pay respect to the Pennsylvania Dutch. On this day, only their parlance can be used in speaking. If you speak any other language, you’ll be fined. Some of the people who celebrate the Groundhog’s Day in Quarryville also claim that their groundhog is more reliable in predicting the weather.
Since the emergence of the Groundhog’s Day is rooted in German traditions, this day commemorates the German and Dutch cultures. And even if one doesn’t take the groundhog’s prediction seriously, everyone likes to take part in this celebration.