Someone better find Bill Murray, because it’s almost Groundhog Day! Find out the history behind his holiday, when it’s going down and all the other wacky facts about this celebration!
Groundhog Day is February 2. Every year, on the second day of the second month of the calendar, people gather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in order to predict the weather. Yep. This big extravaganza is centered around Punxsutawney Phil. If this groundhog, arguably the most famous groundhog ever, sees his shadow after a “long winter’s sleep,” it’s a bad omen and means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then that means spring is fast approaching, according to Groundhog.org.
Phil will leave his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob around 7:25 AM ET. After observing weather conditions, he’ll make his prediction then. HollywoodLife.com will have plenty of coverage of the event. Spoiler alert: Phil has a 39% accuracy, according to Live Science.
It’s adopted from pagan traditions. Surprise! Actually, it would be a shock if a holiday where a woodland creature is used to determine the forecast wasn’t derived from pagan practices. While the exact origins of Groundhog’s Day aren’t known, many have linked it to ancient pagan traditions, according to Mental Floss. The ancient holiday of Imbolc falls on February 1st or 2nd, and it’s a “halfway” point between the Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox.
It also has some Christian roots. February 2 is also observed by Christians as Candlemas, as it is 40 days after Christmas (the day when Jesus was first presented in the Temple and after the 40-day purification period after Childbirth for Mary under Jewish law.) The day became associated with weather forecasting, as an “old Scottish doggerel,” per Snopes, sums it up: “If candlemas day be dry and fair / the half o’winter to come and mair / If Candlemas day be wet and foul / The half of winter’s gone at Yule.”
Badger’s Day? The groundhog (known as a woodchuck, whistlepig or Marmota monax) became a mascot for this springtime guessing game after German settlers migrated to the northeaster United States, according to Snopes. Before the whistlepig became the spokesanimal for this celebration, bears, hedgehogs or badgers were given the duty of predicting their weather. Why? They are hibernating species that come out of their burrows around the same time of the year. Yet, those German immigrants found that badgers, bears and hedgehogs aren’t native to Pennsylvania – but groundhogs, another hibernating species, are! Thus, the new Pennsylvanians started using the groundhog as their meteorologist, kicking off a tradition that continues to this very day.
There are groundhogs everywhere! Can’t make it to Pennsylvania to see Punxsutawney Phil make his prediction? Well, there are plenty of Groundhog Day celebrations everywhere. General Beauregard Lee makes his pick in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Staten Island Chuck chooses in the New York City borough. There’s Sir Walter Wally in North Carolina, Dunkirk Dave in Dunkirk, New York, and Chattanooga Chuck in Tennessee. It’s a groundhog explosion of weather-predicting mammals!
Are you excited for Groundhog Day, HollywoodLifers?