Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Everybody has heard of Groundhog Day; however, in this case we are definitely not talking about the film. While the film was entertaining and remains a real favorite around the world, Groundhog Day exists. On February 2nd each year and is a folk tradition in parts of the US. The tale is that if the skies are cloudy when the groundhog comes out from its burrow then there will be an early spring; however, if it is sunny then the groundhog will retreat upon seeing its shadow and there will be another six weeks of winter.

In a number of areas there are events where people gather to watch the groundhog emerge. If you live close enough it is worth going along to one of these events so that you can say you have done this at least once!

There are plenty of these gatherings in parts of southeast Pennsylvania, where Groundhog Lodges make this a real social occasion. Food is served, a few speeches are made, and entertainment is provided in the form of plays or skits ‒ there is no need to simply hang around waiting for a creature to appear. In this part of the world the events are carried out in the Pennsylvania German dialect and you may have to pay a small penalty if you speak English (per word!).

For the largest event of this kind head over to Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania. Here you will see crowds of up to 40,000 people and the event has been taking place here since around 1886. You can also try the events in Quarryville and the Sinnamahoning Valley.

Pennsylvania is not your only option for a Groundhog Day celebration. Why not try Wiarton in Ontario? Or how about the event at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park in Nova Scotia? Alternatively you can head over to the University of Dallas in Irving to see what it believes is the second-largest celebration of the day. You might be living far from these places but there are plenty of smaller celebrations around the country – check your area to see what is coming up.

Does the groundhog get it right? This depends on who you believe! The event organizers will tell you that the animal can be right up to 90% of the time; however, a study in Canada suggests that accuracy is around the 37% mark, although the event in Punxsutawney fared slightly better with 39% accuracy.

The weather-predicting talents of the groundhog have been dismissed by the National Climatic Data Center, which is something to bear in mind if you want to go along to one of these events. The groundhog might not be brilliant as a weather forecaster but this is a fun tradition and one that dates back a long time. As long as you are not relying on this form of weather forecasting for planning your garden or social activities, there is no reason not to enjoy it.