The History of Ground Hog Day
January 27, 2017
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By Audrey Hancock
It’s that time of year again! The fate of winter rests in the hands of the groundhog. On February 2, an adorable little groundhog is going to decide whether winter is going to drag on or if spring comes early this year.
Groundhog Day holds a tradition in which people observe what a groundhog does when it leaves its hole. The groundhog comes out of its home, after a long winter sleep, and if it is sunny and it sees its shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks. In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, according to National Public Radio, every year they test this theory with a groundhog named Phil (npr.org).
How can such a cute animal forecast the weather? According to a website about how Groundhog’s can forecast the weather, “The National Data Center reportedly stated that Phil’s predictions have been correct thirty nine percent of the time. This number is in conflict with Phil’s Club which states he’s been right one hundred percent of the time” (huffpost.com). Whether it’s an accurate prediction or not, it’s still a fun tradition.
“February 2 brings the most watched weather forecast of the year, and the one lead by a rodent,” said a website about the forecast on Groundhog Day (infoplease.com). Whether the little woodchuck predicts correctly or not has fascinated people for ages. Animals waking up from hibernation is usually a natural sign of spring, but it’s all up to the groundhog in this matter. Freshmen Holly Miner said, “I don’t believe that the groundhog can predict the weather, but I do think that Groundhog Day is a good holiday, because it gives people something to anticipate and to laugh about.”
According to the National Centers of Environmental Information, “Groundhog Day originates from ancient celebration of the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox — the day right in the middle of astronomical winter.” This old history has more than one background. “Groundhog Day has its roots in the Ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be” according to the History Channel (history.com).
Sophomore Heidi Mendoza, “It is so interesting how a bunch of people believe that a groundhog can predict the upcoming weather. I just wonder why it had to be about groundhogs. Although they are cute! I just can’t wait to find out on the forecast if they really can tell if it’s going to be six more weeks of winter or spring!”
Groundhog Day is a day to maybe discover if this important clueless animal really does know how to forecast the weather, even if the woodchuck doesn’t know what a big role he plays in our seasons.