Thursday, February 3, 2011

Good News for Groundhog Day!

Finally we have some good news in the midst of all these winter blizzards... Punxsutawney Phil told the world that he did not see his shadow and we will have an early spring!  Now that is a Groundhog Day worth celebrating!

To watch the video of the whole ceremony, click here:  Phil doesn't make his appearance until 2/3 of the way through, but it's worth it because he's so cute!  I love that the town keeps the traditional procession to Gobbler's Knob alive and even dress the part. They have a great website explaining all things Groundhog Day at

Here is part of "Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992" written by Bill Anderson that explains the origins:

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important. 

According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

According to an old Scotch couplet:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be twa winters in the year.

Another variation of the Scottish rhyme:

               If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
              The half o' winter to come and mair,
              If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
             The half of winter's gone at Yule.
The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the "Second Winter." 

Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to in profusion in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter. 

The Germans recited:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.



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