Monday, February 2, 2015

Why is there such a thing as Groundhog Day?

Punxsutawney Phil predicted this morning that we will endure 6 more weeks of winter. But do you know why this is even a tradition? Well, hopefully after reading this you will know more.

Groundhog Day is an holiday celebrated in the United States but has been passed on down throughout the centuries. February 2nd has been designated as the holiday for many years. But it hasn't always been called Groundhog Day. Centuries ago it was called Candlemas, and it has traveled through European countries like England and Scotland. It 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. 

According to an 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.

It has been passed from the Roman legions to the Germans who picked it up and concluded that if an animal, a hedgehog, saw his shadow the days of winter would not pass thus a second winter would begin.

The Germans recited:

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

It has also been dated back to 19th century American farmers. New England farmers believed that no matter how cloudy it was on Feb. 2nd winter was not going to end. If the farmer didn't have at least half of his hay remaining, the cows would be eating very lean until spring when grass started growing again. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has been helping this tradition continue on Feb. 2nd for the last 125 years.

Here are a few books in the library that are fun reads about Groundhog Day:

Punxsutawney Phyllis 
by Susanna Leonard Hill

It's groundhog day! 
by Steven Kroll

So as we all "celebrate" to keep wearing our winter gear, we can think about the reason why we are still freezing cold. Thanks Phil the Groundhog, thanks a lot!


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