Groundhog Day 2018 is on Friday, February 2, 2018: Why is there a "groundhog day"? What is its significance?

Advertisements

Friday, February 2, 2018 is Groundhog Day 2018. The 1952 Groundhog Day Storm was the only Atlantic tropical cyclone on record in the month of February.

Groundhog Day (movie poster).

The 1952 Groundhog Day Storm was the only Atlantic tropical cyclone on record in the month of February.

Amazon Gold Box

Groundhog Day (or Groundhog's

The January 31 – February 2, 2011 North American winter storm, also called the 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard, was a powerful and historic winter storm, situated around the US and Canadian holiday Groundhog Day.

Why is there a "groundhog day"? What is its significance?

Groundhog Day may seem like a newfangled ceremony — what with Punxsutawney Phil living in a climate-controlled environment in the town library (where he is fed dog food and ice cream) and being transported once a year to Gobbler's Knob where tuxedo-clad gentlemen await his exit from a heated burrow at 7:25 a.m. on February 2 and bend down respectfully to receive his meteorological prognostications and convey them to a breathless media and an attentive world...

But, in truth, the roots of Groundhog Day go way back. Consider this entry from the diary of a shopkeeper named James Morris, of Morgantown, Pennsylvania:

February 4, 1841 — "...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." (From the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College.)

Go back further, and you'll come across Imbolc, midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox (one of the year's cross-quarter days). It is celebrated nowadays on February 1 or 2, and it is a festival of light reflecting the lengthening days and the coming of spring. In fact, in the Irish calendar, Imbolc is the first day of spring. This correlates nicely with the belief that the lack of a shadow on that day indicates the end of winter (cloudy, overcast skies often come together with milder temperatures).

The groundhog, a brownish, short-legged, heavyset cousin of the squirrel, is a hibernating animal that lives in burrows. Its other name is woodchuck, which inspired the famous tongue twister: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

The traditional answer is: A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. But a more practical piece of information came from wildlife expert Richard Thomas, quoted in The Wall Street Journal. He calculated that the average groundhog moves approximately one square meter (35 cubic feet), or 320 kilograms (700 pounds), of dirt when digging a burrow.

On February 2, groundhogs by any name will take a break from their burrowing and their hibernating, and check the ground to see whether winter is on its last gasp or still going strong. And thanks in part to the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, many of us will be waiting to find out.

Recommended Sites:

The official site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club

The site of Wiarton Willie, the Canadian counterpart of Punxsutawney Phil

One groundhog's blog

Why Groundhog Day is really based on Chinese astronomy

Punxsutawney Phil's 2006 prediction

What is groundhog day...?

What is groundhog day...?

Groundhog Day is a "holiday" celebrated on February 2 in the United States and Canada. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter-like weather will soon end. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks

I think it comes about because someone got cabin fever and needed a reason to get out

what’s Groundhog Day?

what's Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day or Groundhog's Day is a traditional festival celebrated in the United States and Canada on February 2. It is a cross-quarter day, midway between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox.

In traditional weather lore, if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and fails to see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end. If the groundhog sees its shadow because the weather is bright and clear, it will be frightened and run back into its hole, and the winter will continue for six more weeks.

Also on this date Friday, February 2, 2018...