History of Groundhogs Day

Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, resulting in six more weeks on winter.

Adaire Noonan, Reporter

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Groundhogs Day was Feb. 2 and the groundhog saw his shadow, signaling six more weeks of winter, but not many people know the history of Groundhogs Day, or why it tells of the coming weeks.

“When the groundhog comes out, he supposed to see his shadow,” Senior Romeo Fuselier said.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club explains that the holiday came from an old folklore in Europe. The folklore goes that on Feb. 2, people would find a groundhogs burrow and wait for him to come out. If the sky is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early. If the sky is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.

The celebration of Groundhogs Day began with German settlers that were coming over to Pennsylvania. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states “for as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May…” Candlemas is the earlier version of Groundhogs Day. Since the groundhogs found in Pennsylvania resembled the European hedgehog, and seeing as they do the same thing around Feb. 2, Pennsylvanian settlers chose the groundhog to represent Groundhogs day.

Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800’s. The first official trek to a trail called  Gobbler’s Knob was made on Feb. 2, 1887. Phil, the groundhog, left his burrow at 7:25 a.m. Feb. 2 at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Philip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br’er Groundhog.

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