Today is February 2, which means it is Groundhog Day!
Today is the day we watch a groundhog come out of its den and use its shadow to predict whether there will be a long winter or if spring is right around the corner. The story is that if the groundhog sees its shadow, it will return to its den for longer hibernation, meaning a long winter. If the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, it will emerge from hibernation, bringing an early spring.
Groundhog Day is celebrated throughout the U.S. and Canada, and its origins go back hundreds of years. Groundhog Day has been celebrated since at least 1886 and started in the Pennsylvanian town of Punxsutawney. Those who celebrated Groundhog Day at this time called it by its Pennsylvania Dutch name, Grundsaudaag.
Groundhog Day comes from pre-Christian traditions brought to the U.S. by German immigrants. People would try to predict when spring would come by watching when ground-dwelling animals would come out of hibernation. In the original tradition, they would watch badgers, but Groundhogs were more common when they came to America and became the animals to pay attention to.
Every year, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, holds its Groundhog Day ceremony with Punxsutawney Phil. This is the most well-known celebration of Groundhog Day. This event is organized and hosted by the Groundhog Club “Inner Circle,” who wear top hats and tuxedos for the occasion. According to the lore of Punxsutawney Phil, there is only one Phil; all other groundhogs are impostors, and Phil has lived to make weather predictions since 1886. According to the Groundhog Club, after Phil has made his prediction, he speaks to the club president in “Goundhogese,” who then translates it for everyone.
While we don’t have a record of every prediction since 1886, the record we do have shows that as of 2023, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted 107 long winters and 19 early springs.
This year, Punxsutawney Phil has not seen his shadow and has predicted an early spring for 2024!
I recommend watching the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ and planning your gardens as you celebrate this year’s prediction!