Today, February 2nd, we celebrate Groundhog Day. Our local Groundhog “Woodstock Willie” will let us Midwesterners know if we will be enjoying an early Spring!! Oooor not. =-(
I will update this post after 7 AM when Willie let’s us know!
UPDATE for 2016!! Willie did NOT see his shadow, so we will be enjoying an early spring here in the Midwest!! BTW – Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow either, so it looks like an early spring for most of the U.S. Smiles all around!! =-D
Groundhog day started here in the U.S. around 1840 when German immigrants in Pennsylvania introduced the tradition of weather forecasting via the hedgehog (der Igel) in Germany. Since there were no hedgehogs here, the Pennsylvania German’s adopted the native woodchuck, aka the groundhog. The town of Punxsutawney, just northeast of Pittsburgh, has played up the custom over the years and has managed to become the most famous locations for Groundhog Day celebrations. Each year, people gather to see if a groundhog named “Punxsutawney Phil” will see his shadow after he emerges from his burrow. If he does, the tradition says there will be six more weeks of winter. (Phil has a rather dismal 39% rate of accuracy for his predictions.)
A similar German tradition is connected with St. Swithin’s Day (Siebenschläfer, June 27th), for which tradition says that if it rains on that day, it will rain for the next seven weeks. However, the Siebenschläfer is a dormouse, not a hedgehog.
The movie, “Groundhog Day” 1993 staring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell is one of my favorite movies. It was not filmed in Pennsylvania, where the movie takes place, but in Woodstock, Illinois, which is right near my home.
There is a small plaque that reads “Bill Murray stepped here” on the curb where Murray continually steps into a puddle.