Happy Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil has declared an early Spring for 2016 as he did not see his shadow.
How did Groundhog Day originate?
Groundhog Day is a traditional holiday that started as a Pennsylvania German custom in the 18th and 19th centuries. Candlemas (also known as Crêpes Day or Chandeleur) is a Catholic holiday that corresponds with the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It falls on February 2nd, which is 40 days after Christmas. The first documented American reference to Groundhog Day can be found in a diary entry, dated February 4th, 1841, of Morgantown, Pennsylvania, storekeeper James Morris: “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”
What is a groundhog?
The groundhog is a rodent, belonging to the ground squirrel family.
The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds as large as 40,000 have gathered to celebrate the holiday since at least 1886. Groundhog Day was made popular by the movie “Groundhog Day”, starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell.
According to the StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, Punxsutawney Phil’s weather predictions have been correct 39% of the time. The National Climatic Data Center has described the forecasts as “on average, inaccurate” and stated that “the groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years.” He is, essentially, a rodent – not a meteorologist!