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
"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
to get more information on attending the infamous Groundhog
Day at Gobblers Knole.