The Origins Of Groundhog Day: Why Do We Celebrate It Again, Exactly?

By | January 31, 2020

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Punxsutawney Phil is held up by his handler for the crowd to see during the ceremonies for Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, it's regarded it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather.

On February 2, all eyes look to a particular rodent in Pennsylvania to see if he can predict the coming weather better than the television meteorologists. It is Groundhog Day, when a whistle pig (that's an alternative name for the groundhog, as is "woodchuck") named Phil peers out from his winter den in search of his shadow. If he sees his shadow and retreats back to his den, it means we are in for six more weeks of winter. If Phil's shadow eludes him, however, we get an early spring. It's an odd tradition, looking to a groundhog for our weather forecast. Let's take a look at the origins of Groundhog Day.

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February 2 falls halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. (

A Special Day On The Calendar

February 2 wasn't just picked arbitrarily. It's a significant day on the calendar because it falls exactly halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, a period which is correlated with the coming of spring. On the Christian calendar, it's called Candlemas.