Groundhog Day is Near

For some strange reason, Germans decided in 1887 to allow a hedgehog to determine the end of winter. If he sees his shadow there will be 6 more weeks of winter, if he doesn’t spring is near. American settlers changed the animal, but kept the holiday. This Thursday will mark the 131st Groundhog Day.

groundhog

The Groundhog is named Punxsutawney Phil. At sunrise he crawls out of his hole and, with a startling number of white men dressed in tuxedos and top hats surrounding him, makes his prediction for the year. Last year over 20,000 people attended the live event at Gobbler’s Knob, while millions watched from afar as it broadcasted online and on television.

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When Germans immigrated to America and settled in Pennsylvania, they changed the hedgehog to the groundhog. Likely because North America does not have wild hedgehogs, but Pennsylvania is chock full of groundhogs. A large rodent which weighs 11-15 pounds and whistles when horny or agitated. Groundhog’s emerge in February, after hibernating in their holes all winter, to find a mate.

feast-of-presenation

The holiday’s origin stems from the ancient Christian holiday, Candlemas Day. Candlemas Day originates from the Feast of the Presentation which has occurred since 4 A.D on the 2nd of February. On Candlemas Day, Christian clergy members blessed candles and then distributed them to their congregation. The candles represented the length and ferocity of winter. Devout Catholics still bring candles for blessings on Candlemas Day.

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This winter is set to be be the warmest on record, so while I would normally beg for Phil to avoid his shadow this year I am not concerned. BRING ON THE SNOW DAYS PHILLY BOY!

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Watch 2012 Ground Hog Day Here.  I promise it is just as strange as you could imagine. But not as weird as this “groundhog” that appears each February 2nd on Dr.Phil.

 

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