Happy Groundhog Day!!

Phil, the Punxsutawney, weather-predicting groundhog.

Phil, the Punxsutawney, weather-predicting groundhog.

Jade Safeukui Noubissi, Staff writer

Hey Saint Joe! It’s Groundhog day! Here’s more on the lovely history of Groundhog day.

This day comes from Pennsylvania Dutch Superstition that says that if a groundhog pops out from its burrow on this day and sees its shadow , it will go back to its den meaning there’s six more weeks of winter. If it does not see its shadow due to cloudiness, spring will arrive early.

 February 2, 1887 was the  first Groundhog day  celebrated at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. This tradition originated from the ancient christian tradition of Candlemas, where clergy blessed and distributed candles needed for winter. These candles represent how long/cold the winter will be. The Germans added on to this by choosing the hedgehogs to predict the weather. When they(Germans) came to America and settled in Pennsylvania, they continued the tradition but eventually switched the animal to groundhog because they could be found anywhere in the state. Let’s learn more about these cute critters.

Groundhogs are also called woodchucks. They typically weigh twelve-fifteen pounds and live six to eight years. They love eating veggies and fruits, can climb trees, swim and whistle when looking for their mate or frightened. Groundhogs go into hibernation in late fall. During this time, their body temperature decreases rapidly, heartbeats slow down to five beats per minute and they can possibly lose 30% of their body weight. The real reason groundhogs, specifically males, emerge in February is to look for their mates before going underground again. Their hibernation period ends by March, where they come out. 

Interestingly enough, the only actual weather-predicting groundhog was Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog. This was declared by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, a group of groundhog hunters. A movie called  GroundHog Day, made in 1993, popularized the term “ living groundhog day” meaning something that’s repeated over and over again. Thousands of people, now come every Feb 2nd, to witness Phil’s prediction.

Happy Groundhog Day, Saint Joe!