Groundhog Day is perhaps one of America’s weirdest traditions.
Every Feb. 2, people wait for a large, furry rodent to see his shadow and then we predict the weather based on the animal’s actions.
The origin story
The idea of Groundhog Day comes from an ancient Christian celebration known as Candlemas Day, which marked the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
According to the the Punxsutawney GROUND HOG CLUB website, on Candlemas Day, clergy would bless candles needed for winter and distribute them to the people. Superstition held that if the day was sunny and clear, people could expect a long, rough winter, but if the sky was cloudy, warm weather would arrive soon.
The Germans then expanded on this tradition, introducing the hedgehog to the mix.
They believed that if the sun appeared and the hedgehog saw his shadow, there would be six more weeks of bad weather, or a “Second Winter.”
Groundhog Day in the United States
Many of Pennsylvania’s early settlers were German, and they brought this tradition with them, switching the hedgehog for the groundhog, which could be more easily found in their new home, according to the Punxsutawney site.
Since then, the tradition has grown in popularity with many other cities across the country hold their own Groundhog Day celebrations. But none are as elaborate as the one that takes place at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every Feb. 2