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Groundhog Day

Will Winter End?

Groundhog

February 2 is that day we all look to the Groundhog to forecast the end or continuing of winter. On Groundhog Day, according to folklore, the groundhog will emerge from its den and take a look around. If s/he sees their shadow, the there will be six more weeks of winter. On the other hand, if no shadow is seen, spring will come early.

Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow. The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where Punxsutawney Phil does the predicting.

The celebration began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its origins are in ancient European weather lore where a badger (sacred bear) is used instead of a groundhog. In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges (Grundsow Lodges) celebrate the holiday with social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more g’spiel (plays or skits) are performed for entertainment. The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime, or quarter per word spoken, with the money put into a bowl in the center of the table.

Groundhog Day also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 1 and involves weather predicting. There are also similarities to St. Swithun’s Day in July.

Whoever makes the prediction, I hope that winter is over and spring will be soon.

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