Groundhog Day

February 2 is Groundhog Day. If the groundhog comes out of its hole and sees it's shadow we are in store for 40 more days of winter. Which this year is a lot! To see a shadow the sun must be shinning and the groundhog has to look in the correct direction. Groundhog Day is an example of predicting the weather based on folklore. Where did this weather folklore originate? In Punxsutawney Pennsylvania. The official groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil, though the tradition as spread to other communities (for example, Sun Prairie WI). The roots of Groundhog Day go back to the 6th century. February 2 is 40 days after Christmas and is Candlemas Day in the Christianity. On this day candles that are used for the rest of the year were bless. This is also about the mid-point in winter, in weather not astronomical terms. Germans began trying to predict how long winter would continue based on the hibernation patterns of bears in this later part of winter. When some Germans settled in Pennsylvania they switched from bears to groundhogs -- which also hibernate. Why the switch I don't know.