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  • Amanda Merkatz



European Roots

(Adapted from "Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992" by Bill Anderson)

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

Old English song

If Candlemas be fair and bright,Come, Winter, have another flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter and come not again.

Old Scotch couplet

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, There'll be twa (two) winters in the year.

Variation of the Scottish rhyme

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.

The Germans recited

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, So far will the snow swirl until the May.

This passage may be the one most closely represented by the first Punxsutawney Groundhog Day observances because there were references to the length of shadows in early Groundhog Day predictions.

The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the "Second Winter."

Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to in profusion in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.

Past Predictions

2017 Phil saw his shadow! Six more weeks of winter it is!

2016 No, Shadow, Spring is near!

2015 Phil saw his shadow! Six more weeks of winter it will be!

2014 Phil saw his shadow! Six more weeks of winter!

2013 No Shadow, Spring is near!

2012 Phil saw his shadow, Six More Weeks of Winter!

2011 No shadow, spring is near! The temperature was 17 degrees with a rain and snow mix!

2010 Phil saw his shadow and told his prediction to new Inner Circle President Bill Deeley.

2009 Phil saw his shadow and Inner Circle President Bill Cooper completed his final interpretation and retired at Gobblers Knob. It was 7:26 a.m.

2008 It was 29 degrees. In front of one of the largest crowds ever

at Gobblers Knob


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