Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Infobox Holiday
holiday_name=Groundhog Day

caption=Groundhog Day 2005 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, USA.
observedby=United States and Canada
date=February 2nd
celebrations= Observing a groundhog emerging from its burrow and seeing whether it sees its shadow, announcing the result of this
significance=Whether the groundhog sees its shadow or not determines how much longer winter will last

Groundhog Day is a holiday celebrated in United States and Canada on February 2.

In weather lore, if a groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, marmot, or ground squirrel, emerges from its burrow on this day and fails to see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end. If on the other hand, it is sunny and the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for 6 more weeks.cite book |title=The Folklore of American Holidays |author=Cohen, H.; Coffin, T.P. (eds.) |year=1987 |pages=57 ]

Candlemas is usually the same day, and has similar beliefs about the coming weather.

Since the release in 1993 of the film of the same name, "Groundhog Day", the phrase is sometimes used in English Fact|date=August 2008 to mean "the same thing over and over again" particularly in reference to unpleasant repeating cycles.


Historical origins

Perhaps the earliest known American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Historical Society of Berks County in Reading, Pennsylvania. The reference was made February 4, 1841 in Morgantown, Berks County, Pennsylvania storekeeper James Morris' diary: "Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans,The attribution to the "Germans" may be based on contemporary hearsay or an isolated reference: there is no commonly known tradition in modern Germany relating Candlemas to the weather.] 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." (Legend has it that the groundhog is a timid creature, and the sight of his own shadow will scare him.)

In the United States the tradition may also derive from a Scottish poem:Quote|As the light grows longerThe cold grows strongerIf Candlemas be fair and brightWinter will have another flightIf Candlemas be cloud and snowWinter will be gone and not come againA farmer should on Candlemas dayHave half his corn and half his hayOn Candlemas day if thorns hang a dropYou can be sure of a good pea crop

This tradition also stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day [cite web |title=About Groundhog Day |url= | |publisher=Punxsutawney Groundhog Club |accessdate=2008-02-04 ] and "Groundhog Day". Candlemas, also known as the Purification of the Virgin or the "Presentation", coincides with the earlier pagan observance Imbolc.

Alternative origin theories

In western countries in the Northern Hemisphere the official first day of Spring is about six weeks after Groundhog Day, on March 20 or March 21. About 1,000 years ago, before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar when the date of the equinox drifted in the Julian calendar, the spring equinox fell on March 16 instead. This was exactly six weeks after February 2. Assuming that the equinox marked the first day of spring in certain medieval cultures, as it does now in western countries, Groundhog Day occurred exactly six weeks before spring. Therefore, if the groundhog saw his shadow on Groundhog Day there would be six more weeks of winter. If he didn't, there would be 42 more days of winter. In other words, the Groundhog Day tradition may have begun as a bit of folk humor. [ [,+Groundhog+Day,+Stackpole+Books,+2003&sig=kfGnFB091GHrOdoCce77Vr-9cwg "Groundhog Day"] , Don Yoder, Stackpole Books, 2003. ISBN 0811700291]

Alternatively, the custom could have been a folk embodiment of the confusion created by the collision of two calendrical systems. Some ancient traditions marked the change of season at cross-quarter days such as Imbolc when daylight first makes significant progress against the night. Other traditions held that Spring did not begin until the length of daylight overtook night at the Vernal Equinox. So an arbiter, the groundhog/hedgehog, was incorporated as a yearly custom to settle the two traditions. Sometimes Spring begins at Imbolc, and sometimes Winter lasts 6 more weeks until the equinox. [Groundhog Day, Margaret Kruesi. "Journal of American Folklore." Washington: Summer 2007. Vol. 120, Iss. 477; pg. 367+]

Famous prognosticators and predictions

As stated earlier, a shadow of Punxsutawney Phil means six more weeks of winter, and no shadow means spring is around the corner. [cite web |title=The Shadow Report: Whether Punxsutawney Phil Sees or Doesn't See His Shadow |author=Patton, Jason |url= ] Groundhog Day proponents state that the rodents' forecasts are accurate 75% to 90%. A Canadian study for 13 cities in the past 30 to 40 years puts success rate level at 37%. [cite encyclopedia |url= |title=Groundhog Day |encyclopedia=The Canadian Encyclopedia |last=Phillips |first=David |publisher=Historica Foundation of Canada ] Also, the National Climatic Data Center reportedly has stated that the overall predictions accuracy rate is around 39%. [cite web |title=Groundhog Day |work=Pet Love Shack |url= ]

What follows is a record of the various dates accompanied by several of the most famous marmot predictions.

In fiction

In 1899, members of The Slumbering Groundhog Lodge of Quarryville, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania composed a song about groundhogs sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic":

Let the scientific fakirs gnash their teeth and stamp with rage-Let astrologers with crystals wipe such nonsense from the page-We hail the King of Prophets, who's the world's outstanding Sage-TODAY THE GROUNDHOG COMES!Glory! Glory! to the Groundhog,Glory! Glory! to the Groundhog,Glory! Glory! to the Groundhog,TODAY THE PROPHET COMES! [Anthony Aveni, "The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays" (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 30-31.]

At the end of Disney's 1930 Silly Symphony Winter, a Mr. Groundhog the Weather Prophet comes out of his hole to determine whether or not there will be more winter. At first, he does not see his shadow, but the clouds clear and his shadow appears, causing him to run back inside. At this point, the winds picks up again and winter continues. In the 1979 Rankin-Bass Christmas TV special "Jack Frost", a crucial plot point in the story involves Jack casting his own shadow on Groundhog Day for six more weeks of winter. At the end of the story it is revealed that the narrator (voiced by Buddy Hackett) is the groundhog.

The 1993 comedy movie "Groundhog Day" takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, USA on this day (although the majority of the movie was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois). The main character (played by Bill Murray) is forced to relive the day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness and become a better person [ [ Groundhog Day (1993) ] ] .

Also in the episode "Next Question" of the children's animated show As Told By Ginger Carl and Hoodsey liberate the towns Groundhog so they could sell scarves remembering their Groundhog, Pete. When the matter is investigated, a monkey, Mr. Licorice, is in the hole and people think that he ate Pete.

In the episode "The Groundhog Day" of The O.C, Seth Cohen and Che attempt to save the animal used on Groundhog Day in their town of Newport.

On January 9, 2006, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office presented installments of the "Groundhog 202" film series, a [ Groundhog Day] promotion that played off "The Shining". The film shows what happens when the groundhog, stuck inside for 364 days, goes mad with cabin fever. On January 11, 2007, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office presented installments of the "Groundhog Crossing" film series, a [ Groundhog Day] promotion that depicted the departure of the Shadow from his friend the Groundhog in an attempt to stop the cycle of winter predictions.

In popular culture, the phrase "Groundhog Day" has come to represent going through a phenomenon over and over until one spiritually transcends it. ["The spiritual power of repetitive form: Steps toward transcendence in Groundhog Day." Suzanne Daughton, "Critical Studies in Mass Communication." Annandale: Jun 1996. Vol. 13, Iss. 2; pg. 138, 17 pgs]

imilar customs

In Germany 27 June is "Siebenschläfertag" (Seven Sleepers Day). If it rains that day, the rest of summer is supposedly going to be rainy. While it might seem to refer to the "Siebenschläfer" squirrel (Glis Glis), also known as the "edible dormouse", it actually commemorates the Seven Sleepers (the actual commemoration day is July 25).

In the United Kingdom, 15 July is known as St. Swithun's day. It is claimed that at one time it was believed if it rained on that day, it would rain for the next 40 days and nights. However, since the probability of such a protracted period of continual rain is virtually nil it is more likely that the belief was simply that the ensuing summer would be wetter than average.


Further reading

*Aaron, Michael A., Brewster B. Boyd, Jr., Melanie J. Curtis, Paul M. Sommers, " [ Punxsutawney's Phenomenal Phorecaster] ". The College Mathematics Journal, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jan., 2001), pp. 26-29 doi 10.2307/2687216
*Cohen, H., and T. P. Coffin. "The Folklore of American Holidays". Detroit: Gale Research, 1987.
*Old, W. C., and P. Billin-Frye. "The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun". Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman, 2004.
*Pulling, A. F. "Around Punxsutawney". Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, 2001.
*Yoder, Don "Groundhog Day". Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003.

External links

* [ History of Groundhog Day]
* [ Groundhog Day History]
* [ Groundhog Day and Gardening] A gardener's reflections on Groundhog Day.
* [ Collection of links to websites about Groundhog Day]
* [ A Collection of Groundhog Crossing Videos] Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil crosses America
* [ Profile of many other prognosticating groundhogs]
*Punxy Phil's Past Predictions: []

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Groundhog Day — (2005) Groundhog Day ist ein kulturelles Ereignis, das an mehreren Orten in den USA und Kanada gefeiert wird. Am 2. Februar jedes Jahres, dem „Candlemass Day“ (Lichtmess), wird traditionell eine Vorhersage über das Fortdauern des Winters… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Groundhog Day — the 2nd February, celebrated in the US. On this day, according to old stories, the groundhog comes out of its hole for the first time since winter began. If it sees its shadow, it is frightened back into its hole and there will be six more weeks… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Groundhog Day — Groundhog ,Day noun uncount February 2nd, a day when some people believe that if a groundhog sees its shadow when it comes out of its hole, there will be six more weeks of winter …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Groundhog Day — ☆ Groundhog Day n. Feb. 2, when, according to tradition, the groundhog comes out of hibernation: if it sees its shadow, it supposedly returns to its hole for six more weeks of winter weather …   English World dictionary

  • Groundhog Day — Este artículo o sección necesita referencias que aparezcan en una publicación acreditada, como revistas especializadas, monografías, prensa diaria o páginas de Internet fidedignas. Puedes añadirlas así o avisar al autor …   Wikipedia Español

  • Groundhog Day — UK / US noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms Groundhog Day : singular Groundhog Day plural Groundhog Days 1) in the US, 2nd February, a day when some people believe that if a groundhog sees its shadow when it comes out of its hole, there will… …   English dictionary

  • groundhog day — /ˈgraʊndhɒg deɪ/ (say growndhog day) noun a situation in which events are or appear to be continually repeated. {from the US  film Groundhog Day (1993) in which the main character finds himself repeatedly reliving a particular day,  namely… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Groundhog Day — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Groundhog Day est : le jour de la marmotte, un événement célébré en Amérique du Nord le jour de la Chandeleur le titre original du film américain Un… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Groundhog Day — February 2, in most parts of the U.S., the day on which, according to legend, the groundhog first emerges from hibernation. If it is a sunny day and the groundhog sees its shadow, six more weeks of wintry weather are predicted. [1870 75, Amer.] * …   Universalium

  • Groundhog Day — noun Etymology: from the legend that a groundhog emerging from its burrow returns to hibernate if it sees its shadow on this day Date: 1871 February 2 observed traditionally as a day that indicates six more weeks of winter if sunny or an early… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.