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Every year on February 2nd, Groundhog’s Day is celebrated around the world. This day is used to determine if we will have an early spring or six more weeks of winter weather. This decision is made by a Groundhog coming out of his hole to either see his shadow and predict six more weeks of winter or seeing no shadow for an early spring. So, where did this idea to have a Groundhog dictate our weather predictions come from? Let’s dive into the history of Groundhog’s Day a little more. 

Where it all Began: Candlemas

Let’s take it back to where it all began, Candlemas. Groundhog Day was rooted from an ancient Christian tradition called Candlemas. This tradition consisted of clergy gathering candles that they would bless and handout to their communities for the winter season. The candles would be distributed on the day between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The weather that day would symbolize how long or cold the season would be. If the weather was a warm, bright, and sunny day, it was believed that there was still much winter ahead. However, if it was much cloudier on the day the candles were given out, it was to be believed that warmer temperatures were coming soon. 

The First Groundhogs Day- February 2, 1887 

As time progressed, the Christian tradition was expanded upon by German settlers in Pennsylvania. They chose to select an animal to predict the weather patterns, rather than candles. They first selected the hedgehog, which later became the Groundhog. 

The first official Groundhog’s Day celebration was celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on February 2nd, 1887. The idea came about from a newspaper editor named Clymer Freas, who convinced a local group of groundhog hunters to search for Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, at Gobbler’s Knob. It is led to believe that on this day Phil, in fact, did see his shadow meaning more winter was ahead.  

Groundhog’s Day Today

Since 1887, the concept of leaving the yearly weather predictions up to a Groundhog has only grown in popularity. In 1993, there was even a movie released called Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. The movie only helped to gain more exposure to the holiday. 

In present day, thousands of people still gather at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania hope that they witness the famous Phil’s weather prediction. Although, by now, the groundhog is sure to be a different one since the year 1887. The event is still largely attended, and celebrated by the media, and by people all over the world as well.