Monday, February 2, 2015 / by June Quilantang
Yes indeed, it’s that time of year. Today is Groundhog Day in the United States, Canada and other places around the world. As you know, if the groundhog sees his shadow today, he’ll burrow back into his hold and that means another six weeks of winter. If not, then, well, it means that spring is surely on its way.
Virtually all of us know the routine, but most of have no clue where it came from, how the groundhog got so much “power” and how it go so popular. To help clarify everything once and for all, we decided to share some of the interesting tidbits around the lore of Groundhog Day.
(Have you ever seen the movie “Groundhog's Day”? It stars Bill Murray as a man who keeps living the same day (Groundhog's Day) over and over.)
The groundhog, sometimes called a woodchuck or marmot, is believed to make weather predictions relating to winter and spring,which is rooted strongly in superstition. Thousands of years ago when animals and nature worship were all the rage in Europe, citizens in the area currently known as Germany believed that the badger possessed the ability to predict the coming of spring. In fact, they believed in this power so strongly that they watched the badger to determine when to plant their crops.
In 1886, settlers brought this tradition over to North America, predominantly in Pennsylvania (Punxsutawney to be exact),where it was the groundhog, not the badger, who became the famous“prognosticator”. It is now the home of Punxsutawney Phil, likely the most famous Groundhog in the entire world.
The Groundhog Day concept became popular in Canada in 1956 when Wiarton Willie became well known for these same February“weather predictions”. There’s even a Wiarton’s Groundhog Day festival thatgrew as Willie’s celebrity increased; in fact, Wiarton Willie became a big enough celerity that he has his own statue in Wiarton. It became one of the largest winter festivals in Bruce County, Canada.
Not to be outdone, there are also other groundhogs in different parts of Canada. For example, Schubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia is reportedly the first groundhog in Canada to stick its head out on Groundhog Day. Other groundhogs include: Gary the Groundhog in Ontario, Brandon Bob in Manitoba and Balzac Billy in Alberta.
Who knew that being a groundhog carried so much authority?Here’s to groundhogs around the world NOT seeing their shadow today. Bring on the sun!