Today is Groundhog Day!
Happy Groundhog Day! Did you know that the tradition dates all the way back to the 1700s? Groundhog Day evolved from Candlemas, a tradition brought to the US by German settlers. Candlemas celebrates the midpoint between Winter Solstice, the day with the shortest amount of daylight each year, and Spring Equinox, the time when the Sun is directly above the equator.
Weather forecasting is often part of the festivities and traditions of Candlemas, and in Germany, badgers were typically used to predict the coming of spring. However, a variety of animals ranging from bears to hedgehogs were used in different regions.
In the US, groundhogs became the animal of choice to carry on the weather lore. Superstition says that if the groundhog sees its shadow upon emerging from its burrow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If the groundhog is not scared back into the burrow by its shadow, spring will come early!
The most well-known Groundhog Day ceremony in the US is held every February 2nd (today!) in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
What will the groundhog predict this year? Only Punxsutawney Phil, the beloved groundhog responsible for predicting the weather at Punxsutawney’s ceremony, has the answer!
While Groundhog Day festivities remain a fun tradition in modern times, Punxsutawney Phil only has a 39% accuracy rate when it comes to predicting the start of spring; therefore, it might be best to get your weather predictions from a different source!
To celebrate Groundhog Day with your students, check out our free Building Writers writing activity!