Groundhog Day is celebrated every year on February 2nd.
It is said on this day, when the groundhog comes out of his deep sleep, if he sees his shadow it means there will be six more weeks of winter. If there is no shadow to be seen, spring is near.
The idea of Groundhog Day roots from the comparable European tradition, Candlemas Day. February 2nd has always been a significant day since it marks the dead of winter. On this day, the clergy would bless candles and hand them out to the people. As an old English song went a little something like this:
“If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.”
History goes that the Roman legions brought the Candlemas tradition to the Germans, who constructed the idea that if the sun was out and an animal, in their case a hedgehog, cast a shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter.
When the Germans came to Pennslyvania, they found groundhogs to be similar to the hedgehog used in their tradition. The groundhog was then adopted as the animal who determines the course of the winter season.
The official groundhog is named Punxsutawney Phil, who appears from his hole at Gobbler’s Knole in Pennsylvania every year. The first recorded celebration of Groundhog Day, then still known as Candlemas Day, was in the year 1841 in Morgantown, PA. However, the first official Groundhog Day at Gobbler’s Knole was in February of 1887.
The growing popularity of the groundhog since its first appearance in the 1800’s is astounding. Not only has Punxsutawney Phil traveled to meet President Regan in Washington, he’s also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and there is even a movie dedicated (kind of) to his special day!
In 1993, Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell starred in the Romantic Comedy, Groundhog Day. In the movie, a weather man (Murray) is reluctantly sent to cover a story about a weather forecasting “rat” (as he calls it). This is his fourth year on the story, and he makes no effort to hide his frustration. On awaking the ‘following’ day he discovers that it’s Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. First he uses this to his advantage, then comes the realisation that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day.
Every year, hundreds of people come from around the world to watch Punxsutawney Phil emerge from his little knole.
Why not be one of them? Click HERE to get more information on attending the infamous Groundhog Day at Gobblers Knole.