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Celebrate Groundhog Day!
GrannyDancer's Holiday Home

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Groundhog Day, a Canadian and American tradition, the day that the groundhog, or woodchuck, comes out of his hole after winter hibernation to look for his shadow; foretells six more weeks of bad weather if he sees it; spring is coming if he cannot see his shadow because of clouds; supposedly goes back into his hole if more bad weather is coming and stays above ground if spring is near.

This tradition is from a old European belief that if it is sunny on Candlemas Day, then the winter would remain another six weeks.

Candlemas Day was celebrated on February second and commemorated the purification of the Virgin Mary. Candles for sacred uses were blessed on this day.

It is uncertain if this belief dates to pre-Christianity, however it was a common belief in many  European countries during the seventeen century. The Germans started the belief of a hedgehog, frightened by his shadow on Candlemas Day would foretell that winter would last another six weeks.  This belief came to America during the eighteenth century with German settlers. These settlers adopted the groundhog as their weather predicator.

This lore grew popular in the United States during the late  eighteen hundreds due to the efforts of Clymer H. Freas, a newspaper editor, and W. Smith a American congressman and newspaper publisher. They organized and popularized a yearly festival in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In which a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil was used to foretell how much longer winter would last. This very popular event is still being held and is called Groundhog Day. In Canada the name of the groundhog that is used to predict the length of winter is Wiarton Willy.

(SOURCE: COMPTON'S INTERACTIVE ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1995)
(SOURCE: WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY, 1994)

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Groundhog Day Links
Groundhog Day Activities For Kids
Punxsatawney Pennsylvania

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Updated: January 07, 2006