Shedding Some Light on Groundhog Day
Well, we made it to February, and here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township NJ, the place is buzzing with our storage customers shuttling in and out after visiting their rental spaces. Luckily, we have successfully dodged all major snow storms to this point – Whew! It seems early to be thinking about Spring, but Groundhog Day is here, so…. Why Groundhog Day? Why not something more spring inspired, like Robin, Daffodil, or Bunny Rabbit day? I wondered where this tradition came from, so I decided to check it out.
It turns out that 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. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal, the hedgehog, as a means of predicting weather. According to tradition, if the hedgehog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather – no shadow means an early spring.
Germans who came to America and settled in in Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Dutch Country) continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.
On February 2nd 1887, Groundhog Day was celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney, called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America’s most famous groundhogs, but other towns across North America now have their own weather-predicting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada. Today, tens of thousands of people converge on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney each February 2nd to witness Phil’s prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club hosts a three-day celebration featuring entertainment and activities.
Well, there you have it – the history of Groundhog Day. Soon Punxsutawney Phil will make his prediction – Will we enjoy an early early Spring, or are we are in for six more weeks of winter? The staff here at The Storage Inn is definitely on “Team Spring”! Happy Groundhog Day!