Millions pay attention to a day in early February. A rejoice from the sudden but expected hollow depression of mother nature otherwise known as winter. A furry friend known as a groundhog determines whether or not by his/her shadow, if winter will continue or be over in several short weeks. Basically, whether Phil, the groundhog, wants to extend his nap.

On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day featuring a rodent is celebrated for the very first time in global history in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to traditions, if the groundhog comes out of its hibernation hole on this very day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If not, spring will come to us early.

The idea behind Groundhog day originates from the Christian religious tradition of Candlemas Day. This is the day when clergy would distribute candles needed for the long and harsh winter. The candles simply represented how long and chilly the winter ahead would be. The Germans later then expanded on this tradition by giving it a hedgehog mascot to represent the weather. When German immigrants came to North America specifically in Pennsylvania, they continued this tradition. However they decided to switch the mascot from a hedgehog to a groundhog because of population purposes of the species.

In 1993, the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray brought thousands to the attention of the holiday. Current day, tens of thousands of people gather at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney every February 2nd to witness Phil’s prediction. The Groundhog club now hosts a several day celebration with festivities such as games and activities to entertain populations.

Last year in 2016, Phil didn’t see his shadow. Rejoicing everyone of the good news that winter is almost over. Not seeing the shadow doesn’t mean spring begins right away however. Some mistake that it does.  It is just a prediction that spring will occur earlier than the calendars set date of March 20th. That warmth and growth of nature will start a little sooner.

Results of GroundHog Day 2017 is that Phil indeed did see his shadow. Which indicates to us that it is predicted that there will be at least six more weeks of winter. Indeed, Phil is going to continue his nap we call hibernation.

The 2017 GroundHog Day festival is including a chili and wing cook-off, groundhog bingo, workshops, art shows, a scavenger hunt and a whole lot more. As well as a lineup of entertainment for children including story time, crafts and a Kids Korner with Groundhog Day related activities. An all day, three day festival to celebrate the awakening and prediction of Phil the Groundhog.

This tradition is one that has gone on for centuries. It has evolved and adapted to new variables however. Including the change of the animal for the prediction, the origin, and the depth of the celebration. Groundhog day can go one of two ways, more winter or less. Regardless of the outcome from Phil’s prediction, the festivities carry on. February second is a day for joy and recognition of one of America’s longest known traditions.

Photo By: CollinsFlags

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