Friday, February 6

Punxsutawney Phil's Big Day

As most of us know, Monday February 2nd was Groundhog Day.  I feel like this day was made a much bigger deal when we were in elementary school.  It was an event that would take up the whole day.  We would have pages to color and fun activities to do throughout the day. Now, if we even have the time to remember that February 2nd is Groundhog Day, we may think about it for five minutes at the most and move on.  No one really takes the time to think about where this holiday came from or what it means.  So for all of you busy college students, here's a quick re-cap.

For thousands of years, Candlemas, the Catholic celebration of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, and Groundhog Day have been celebrated on the same day.  We all know that there is a phrase about what happens when Phil sees his shadow, and this is the formal one:

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright, Winter again will show its might.
 If Candlemas Day be cloudy and grey, winter soon will pass away.

So this means if the groundhog sees his shadow there are six more weeks of winter, but why six weeks?  Apparently, this tradition started with the early Christians in Europe.  It started mainly as a celebratory milestone in the winter, where the weather on that day was important, but the groundhog didn't come into play until later.  This tradition was passed on to the Germans who concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day a hedgehog would show its shadow predicting six more weeks of winter, which they called "Second Winter".  

The tradition was passed on the States when the Germans came to Pennsylvania, where they decided the groundhog was a close equivalent to the European Hedgehog.  Apparently, this was an animal known for its intelligence because it was deemed to be smart enough to know that if it saw its shadow, it would scurry back into its hole for six more weeks of winter.  I bet that was more than you ever wanted to know about Groundhog Day, but I hope it answered some long thought about questions! :)

By the way, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.  Are you surprised?

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