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Groundhog Day Again?

Read about the history and fun facts that surround Groundhog Day in American culture

Every year on February 2nd, people around the United States wake up to see if the famous groundhog has seen his shadow. Will there be six more weeks of winter or will spring come early? If you were asked how long this holiday has been around, would you guess thousands of years? Most people probably would not.


Groundhog Day actually dates back to ancient times and wasn’t actually celebrated on February 2nd. Though, the first time that this holiday was supposedly celebrated does date back to pre-Christian times in Europe. The holiday was originally celebrated on February 1st since it was directly in between a solstice and an equinox. It was given the name Imbolc in pre-Christian Europe and commemorated a change in the weather. This was one of four holidays that were embedded into the Celtic calendar. When Christianity spread into Europe, those four holidays were “Christianized,” and February 1st became know as Candlemas.

How did Candlemas become Groundhog Day? Well, in the German speaking areas of Europe, their ancestors believed that a badger predicted the weather or change of seasons. They believed that if a badger were to see his shadow on Candlemas, then it would crawl back into its hole for four more weeks. This tradition then came to the United States via the Pennsylvania Dutch. Since there was not an abundance of badgers, the small mammal was replaced with another, a groundhog, which also hibernated during the winter season. The adaptation of the groundhog allowed the Pennsylvania Dutch to retain their tradition in the New World. That then makes the founding of Groundhog Day in the U.S. to be between the years 1727 and 1775, when most of the Pennsylvania Dutch immigrated. Why the celebration got moved to the February 2 is not quite known, but it has become a widely celebrated holiday throughout the United States. A more in-depth history of the day can be found here.

Pop Culture

Though many celebrations occur for this holiday, it also became inspiration for a famous comedy movie.

The 1993 film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, is a comedy where a weatherman relives the same day, Groundhog Day, where he reports on the findings of the groundhog. This is one of many ways this holiday has found a way to be recognized.

Groundhog Day Cover Adaptation Drawn By: Kira Florek

The Groundhogs

However, the most famous, modern-day celebration is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where thousands of people gather or watch on TV to see if the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, will see his shadow meaning six more weeks of winter or if spring will come early. The first time Punxsutawney celebrated Groundhog Day was 1887 where the inhabitants of Elks Lodge consulted a groundhog from Gobbler’s Knob on the weather. It is anyone’s guess who decided to bring the German tradition to Punxsutawney, but it caught on and is still done today. By the 1960s, the groundhog was even given the name “Puxawtatny Phil” and he would consult with men in black suits, the “inner circle,” to determine if there would be more winter or an early spring. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club also goes into the history and details their celebration’s events here.

Punxsutawney Phil 2022
(license: (Anthony Quintano)

Washington D.C has a celebration as well on Groundhog Day. Beginning in 2012, this stuffed groundhog, Potomac Phil, not only predicts the weather, but he also predicts the political future. This groundhog has gotten the pegged the National Groundhog since he resides and predicts from the capital. More on Potomac Phil and his predictions can be found here.

Potomac Phil 2023
(license: (Joe Flood)

Even the state of Ohio has their own unique tradition. Buckeye Chuck is the state’s residing groundhog in Marion, Ohio. Chuck was first named the state groundhog in 1979, and he has been predicting the weather ever since. Our very own groundhog predicted a longer winter last year, so we’ll have to see what he decides this year. Some more on his past predictions can be found here.

Buckeye Chuck Drawn By: Kira Florek

There are even more groundhogs than these three mentioned. In total, there are 75 weather-predicting groundhogs in both the United States and Canada. Though Punxsutawney Phil may be the oldest, the other 74 still like having a say in the upcoming weather. All the groundhogs, their names, hometowns, and predictions can be found here.

Though all of these traditions vary, their roots run deep in various cultures that make their home in the melting pot of the United States. Whether you want more winter or an early spring, the groundhog will surely reveal the weather’s fate early February 2nd.

Cardinal Nation was able to ask some students if they thought there would be six more weeks of winter or an early spring.

Cardinal Nation: Will there be six more weeks of winter or an early spring?

Maddie Grice: “I gotta go early spring.”

Katie Polanz: “Six more weeks of winter.”

Autumn Peterson: “I think six more weeks of winter.”

Michael Krueger: “Early spring for sure”

Patrick Collins: “Early spring”

Dom Trem: “Early spring”


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