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National Groundhog Day!

Today, we celebrate the annual tradition in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day.  This day is observed annually on February 2nd.

Every year people gather together and celebrate the most awaited tradition and belief about winter prediction.  This is the time when the groundhog awakens from his nap and goes outside and people gather around him waiting to see if he sees his shadow or not.

Many believe that when the groundhog sees a shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter, then the groundhog goes back to his den and goes back to sleep.  But when the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, he remains outside to play, and everyone believed that spring is just around the corner.  A tradition that remains popular up to this time, studies found no consistent correlation with the groundhog seeing his shadow with the arrival of spring.

The celebration is always held at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, centering around a semi-mythical groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil and has been the most attended gathering of up to 40,000 people each year.  For this year, Phil is set to come out at exactly 7:25 am, and normally people gather as early as 6:00 am in spite of the cold weather, and is usually televised by media streamers, allowing more people to witness the animal meteorologist.

So, today, if you are up to it, head to Punxsutawney and celebrate Groundhog Day and be a witness of the upcoming spring forecast.  If not, you can always watch it in the news or find a channel who will be broadcasting it.  Share on social media your thoughts about this tradition using #GroundhogDay.

1887 First Groundhog Day

On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.

Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting the weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

Groundhogs also called woodchucks and whose scientific name is Marmota monax, typically weigh 12 to 15 pounds and live six to eight years. They eat vegetables and fruits, whistle when they’re frightened or looking for a mate (they’re sometimes called whistle pigs) and can climb trees and swim.

(excerpted from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-groundhog-day)