What really is Groundhog Day?

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Groundhog coming out of its den (source here)

As February approaches, many people find themselves waiting for the cold weather to end and spring to arrive. Spring is very much depicted as a happy season. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining. In the United States and Canada, we have a special holiday to celebrate this feeling: Groundhog Day. But what really is Groundhog Day, and why is it dear to so many people in North America?

Groundhog Day, celebrated on February 2nd, is a holiday predicting the arrival of spring. The story is, that a chosen groundhog comes out of its den after hibernating in the winter to look for its shadow. If it’s a sunny day and the groundhog sees its shadow, it hides in its den and winter lasts for six more weeks. However, if it’s a cloudy day, and the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, it stays outside and spring comes soon.

Groundhog Day originated from the Christian tradition of Candlemas, which celebrates the presentation of young Jesus at the temple. Early Christians would determine the coming of spring or the duration of winter by observing the weather on Candlemas. If the day was bright and sunny, then winter would last longer, but if the day turned out to be cloudy and rainy, spring would come early!

Although these predictions are obviously not based on science and are purely for speculation, it’s always fun to see if the groundhog sees its shadow or not. Let’s hope that the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow and spring brings sunshine and warmth soon!

By Roma (MYP4)

Bibliography: Goggin, Benjamin. “What are the origins of Groundhog Day?” http://www.digg.com Digg Inc., 1 February 2016. Web. 1 February 2017. http://digg.com/2016/groundhog-day-origin

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