Today is Groundhog Day!! Hmm...wonder if we'll have 6 more weeks of winter. I know that some parts of our country are getting slammed by wintery weather, while we down here in the South are having very mild temps. Kinda crazy how it all works! However, I cannot honestly say that I would trade places very quickly with those who have tons of snow and ice. So, let's look into what Groundhogs day is...
"What is a groundhog?" you might ask...well, it's also known as a woodchuck [can't help but to think of 'how much wood can a woodchuck chuck' - hehehe] (or a Marmota monax for all of you really smart folks). It's a small (10-15lbs) critter that is a "vegan" (only fruits and veggies for these fellas/gals), whistles when it's scared or wants to mate, and hibernates for several months in the winter.
"How did Groundhog day get started?" - another excellent question. Well, some say (probably the most widely understood/believed) it stems from the Christian Candlemas Day - where priests blessed candles, gave them to their parishoners for the winter, and the candles represented how long winter would be. Of course, it can also be possibly tied to a Pagan festival and the Celtic Calendar. I'm sure that there are all sorts of ways this day can be explained. However, it was most notably the Germans that made the idea of using a small, furry critter (a badger or hedgehog) coming out to see it's shadow a sign of a longer winter, versus it not seeing it's shadow, meaning a shorter winter. Once the Germans came to America, they switched the critter to the groundhog - and continued their tradition.
"Is Punxsutawney Phil the only Groundhog used to forecast the weather on Groundhog day?" - Nope!! There are all kinds of groundhogs used throughout America and Canada. Some other famous groundhogs are: Smith Lake Jack, Staten Island Chuck, General Beauregard Lee, and Gus. There are tons of famous groundhogs out there, those were just a few!
Of course Groundhog day get's it due in sitcoms, video games and even has it's own movie! I think that regardless of whether or not the groundhog(s) make a correct prediction or not, it's a cute tradition. So here's to winter slowly melting into spring, and hoping everyone has a great groundhog day!
Oh, and I'm positive I didn't cover every aspect of groundhogs or groundhog day...this was just meant to be a short synopsis of what and why. But feel free to leave us comments about what, where, why, etc. Or you can tell us what you think about groundhog day!