In tongue twisters, it’s called a woodchuck. In science textbooks, it’s called a Marmota Monax. But in the meteorology world, we know these little rodents as groundhogs, and they’re here on February 2nd to predict the rest of the winter weather. Read on to learn about the history of groundhog day.
If you’ve seen Billy Murray in Groundhog Day, you probably know that this holiday had its start in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The first official Groundhog Day took place at Gobbler’s Knob in 1887.
The History Behind Groundhog Day
However, the roots of this tradition and the history of Groundhog Day started before that. The fun, meteorological holiday is based off of a Christian tradition called Candlemas Day. On this day, the clergy would bless candles and distribute them for the winder. The candles would represent how much longer and colder winter would be.
The Germans—whether in the spirit of jest or poor judgment regarding where the weather comes from—decided that an animal should also be used to predict the weather. For a while, they used the hedgehog. If there had been a larger population of these in Pennsylvania then February 2nd may have been called Hedgehog Day. But since groundhogs were more prominent, these little rodents continue to tell us when spring will come.