Groundhog predicts an early spring
Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today, which according to legend means an early spring. In Alaska, this day is known as Marmot Day. Marmots include small animals like groundhogs, woodchucks, and ground squirrels.
Groundhog Day stems from a German celebration known as Candlemas Day, which marked the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Candles were blessed and placed in windows to bring light to the dark winter nights.
According to an old German saying,
“For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.”
Germans followed the lead of a hedgehog in the tradition’s early days. If the sun was out and the hedgehog saw its shadow, they believed the remainder of winter would be cold and stormy. If it was cloudy and the hedgehog did not see its shadow, spring was thought to be on the way.
The tradition arrived in America in the 1700s when Germans settled in Pennsylvania. A lack of hedgehogs in the state led settlers to choose the groundhog for the yearly prediction, an animal they believed to be wise. Groundhog Day was first observed in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in 1886 and now attracts thousands of spectators each year on Feb. 2.