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What is Groundhog's Day?

January 30, 2024

A groundhog peaking out of its hole

Jump To: History | Other Same Day Holidays | Groundhog Day

 

What do The Snerd of Garner, Sir Walter Wally, Stonewall Jackson, Milltown Mel, Essex Ed, Dunkirk Dave, General Beauregard Lee, Shubenacadie Sam, Jimmy, Quigley, Chopper, Marlu, Charlotte, French Creek Freddie, Fred La Marmotte, Wiarton Willie, Birmingham Bill, Buckeye Chuck, Manitoba Merv, Winnipeg Wyn, Van Isle Violet, Staten Island Chuck, Woodstock Willy, Wiarton Willy, and the two Phils have in common?

Need a hint?  

How’s this? Woodchucks, groundpigs, whistlepigs, thickwood badgers, Canadian marmots, monax, mooonacks, weenusks, red monks, and land beavers also share something in common with all of those names as well?

Still struggling?

Does this help?

How much wood would a Woodchuck chuck if a Woodchuck would chuck wood? Now say it three times as fast as you can!

Have you figured it out yet?

I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes and saying to yourselves “Duh, they are all groundhogs” Well  LA DI DA  smartypants. But, I’m gonna be honest here and confess that I had NO IDEA that The Snerd of Garner was a groundhog. So good for you and your big brains and worldly knowledge. 

I’m sure you’re also gonna say you know ALL about Groundhog Day too. 

Well, for those of you who DON’T know, I’m gonna school you on everything Groundhogs and their rightful place in silly little…er, I mean, serious traditions.

Every February 2, since 1887, Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania has been known as the great weather prognosticator extraordinaire. 

Phil is a groundhog just in case you weren’t following. Stay with me here. Once Phil emerges from his burrow, the fate of Spring lies in him seeing his shadow or not. If it’s sunny and Phil sees his shadow, it is believed that there will be six more weeks of winter. And if it’s cloudy and he DOESN’T see his shadow, then it’s early spring for everyone.

 

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And don’t you dare go confusing this Phil with the other Phil. He’s a whole different Phil and deserves his own recognition. Potomac Phil is just as worthy a mention as Punxsutawney Phil. Potomac Phil is Washington, D.C.’s resident Groundhog that does his OWN predictions. So ya’ll best be bowin’ down to Phil number two, too.  

Unless of course you live in SoCal or Florida, then you don’t need to bow down. Not because we’re above bowin’ down. Trust, I’ve bowed down with the best of em’. It’s just that we don’t have a  Phil  or  Charlotte,  or a Samantha, Carrie, or Miranda for that matter. We just have a Vivian Gonzalez and a Dallas Raines delivering the weather straight from their respective Miami and Los Angeles news room studios. No need to worry about any Groundhogs seeing their shadows and forcing us into extended freezing cold conditions. Because us folks here in LA an—

-–Hold on.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrr … It's 60 degrees here in LA as I write this. I need to shut my window. Be right back.

Phew…that was close. What was I saying? Sometimes this extreme cold gives me brain farts. 

Oh yeah! Now I remember! For us Southern state people, the weather is pretty much the same all the time. But, hey! It’s fun to partake in the excitement of watching a groundhog determine the fate of the seasons for the rest of the country! 

And if you don’t believe a groundhog can predict whether or not you’re gonna get some extra time wearing your favorite SpiritHoods faux fur coat, then take your cue from Concord Casimir. Casimir is a weather-predicting cat from Concord, Ohio, whose forecast is based on how he eats his annual pierogi meal. 

I wonder if the way I eat the gluten-free chocolate pumpkin bread at Groundworks is any indication of an early spring? Cuz let me tell you…this lil’ lady can’t eat that deliciousness fast enough. 

All this food and weather talk has you wanting a history lesson, doesn’t it? No problem. Your favorite history teacher, moi, is here to spread some knowledge.

School is in session!

A Brief History 

Groundhog Day has been celebrated every February 2 since 1887 in the United States and Canada. Many cities across North America have their own local groundhog that does their own weather predicting, like The Snerd of Garner. He is North Carolina’s famous groundhog meteorologist. Fun fact: he’s named after the comedian and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s famous puppet. You were thinking “snerd,” as in “sexy nerd” weren’t you? OR “snerding,” as in when something makes you laugh suddenly and instead of laughing out of your mouth, you laugh out of your nose and boogers come out. Not either of those kinds of snerds. The other kind. The groundhog kind.

The gathering of a community to witness a cute little furry brown mammal with big front teeth predict the fate of the seasons has its roots in ancient European folklore. Sacred bears and badgers were used to predict weather during early Pagan traditions. These rituals were particularly popular amongst the Celts and Germans. It's hard to pinpoint an exact date of when these customs first started because they were old stories that were told tales and not written down. So it's a bit hard to trace. 

And when the Germans settled in Pennsylvania, they brought with them the tradition of using an animal to predict the weather. In Germany, they used a badger, once they got to the new world, it was a groundhog. And now once a year, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania attracts thousands of tourists and locals hoping to catch a glimpse of Phil’s predictions while celebrating with festivities, music, food and speeches. Cuz we all love a good speech. No celebration is complete without a good speech. Lots of em’. Just people talkin’ and talkin’ and all you really wanna do is eat the doughnuts that are on the refreshment table waiting ... until … The speech. Is over.  Snooooooooze.

Groundhog Day’s Origins

Groundhog Day has its earliest roots in Pagan traditions, particularly Imbolc, an ancient festival that marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated on February 2 as well. This period in the calendar is all about welcoming back the light after the long dark winter months. Imbolc reflects themes of renewal, purification, and preparation for the future, resonating with the natural cycle of the seasons. Its celebration has undergone many transformations throughout the centuries, but today modern Pagans and Wiccans observe many of the ancient rituals and traditions associated with the Imbolc. 

The Christians adapted some of Imbolc’s traditions and in their holiday, Candlemas Day. In Christianity, Candlemas falls forty days after Christmas on February 2 and marks the feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This celebrated holiday also marks the midpoint between winter solstice and the spring equinox. The belief that clear skies on Candlemas Day meant cold weather ahead, while cloudy skies meant an early spring. 

Other February 2 Holidays 

Groundhog Day can’t just “hog” all the attention. (Cheap and not so funny joke, I know. I just need to humor myself sometimes.) There are other yearly holidays that are celebrated on the same day too.

Work Naked Day

Yup. You read that right folks. February 2 is “Work Naked Day” So no need for me to do my laundry next week, I’ll be sittin’ down in front of my computer getting some good ol’ work done in what my mama gave me! Who's joining me?  We’re streaking! We’re going up through the quad to the gymnasium. There’s more coming. Everybody’s doing it.  Did I just completely date myself? 

And if working naked doesn’t feel like the holiday you want to celebrate this year, how about observing…

World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day was established on February 2, 1971 and marks the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran. This holiday celebrates the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet and is an opportunity to educate people about the importance of wetlands in maintaining biodiversity, mitigating climate change, providing freshwater, and supporting a wealth of plant and animal species. It also serves as a platform for governments and environmental organizations to openly discuss policies and strategies for wetland conservation and sustainable management.  

So, obviously we at SpiritHoods, dig this holiday.

Dia de la Candelaria 

On the second day of February each year, Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries celebrate this day as a follow-up to Dia de los Reyes Magos (King’s Day). This day is a blend of Christian and indigenous traditions, with its roots in Candlemas Day. Candles are lit in churches, symbolizing Jesus as the light of the world. Many people bring their baby Jesus from their nativity set to the church to be blessed on this day. And families celebrate on this day with music, and the preparation and eating of tamales and atole. 

And you know what else likes to eat besides families? You guessed it sister Sally Sue! Groundhogs (I fully confess that I needed to find a segue back to Groundhog Day.) 

Back to Groundhog Day

For those of you that are skeptical about the accuracy of a groundhog predicting weather, perhaps you’d feel more confident with some of the other animals that are said to also take a stab at meteorology?

How about a Woolly Bear Caterpillar? 

According to folklore, if you happen to spot one of these lil guys with long black bands walking across your garden, that means you’re in for a long stretch of snow and cold. If you spot one with more rust- colored markings, then you’re in for a milder winter and early spring. 

According to Entomologists, less black suggests older insects. But F*** science, isn’t it more fun to hear a made up story that keeps us all trapped in fantasy and out of reality, right?

And if bugs ain’t yo thang, then grab your rulers and let's go find the closest mole hole! According to an old legend in the Farmer’s Almanac, “if the mole digs its hole 2.5 feet deep, expect severe weather; if 2 feet, then not so severe; if 1 foot deep, a mild winter.”

No to the moles? 

The Farmer’s Almanac also states that “if crows fly in pairs, expect fine weather; a crow flying alone is a sign of foul weather.” A lonely crow (and my bad moods) are said to be a sign of poor conditions.

What about squirrels? Folklore says we should be looking at squirrel’s backsides, the bushier their tails, the worse winter will be. Side note: I wonder if the same works for my hair. Cuz she is  FRIZZZ-eeee right now. 

And who doesn’t love a cow?

According to myth, if you see a bunch of cows laying down in a field, time to put on your galoshes. According to old tales, cows will hunker down on grass to keep it dry before it rains. The reality is that the cows are most likely chewing on cud or taking it easy, because technically they DO spend fifty percent of their time resting. But again, made up stories are  sooooooo much more fun.

And who doesn’t love sheep???

Sheep are also believed to predict less than desirable conditions. A herd of sheep huddled together is said to be a sign of storms coming. But the truth is, sheep are like me, they just want to get cozy. So when they are huddling together it's their instinctual way of protecting themselves from predators, or that narcissistic ex from 6 years ago that you thought you’d never see again, but then you happen to spot them at your favorite coffee shop and now you’re really hoping they didn't see you. 

And what about one of my personal favorites, the frog?

According to old folklore, frogs croak really loudly when they want to announce that rain is on the way. And as the storm gets closer and closer, they’ll croak longer and louder. But in reality, a loud chorus of frogs is most likely a sign that mating season has arrived and it's time to get some action. I’m gonna definitely side with the truth and not the made up story on this one. Frogs wanting to get their sex on is  way better  than a little weather prophesying. 

And if you have cats, pay close attention. According to a 19th-century book on weather proverbs, if they wash behind their ears, sneeze, sit with their tail facing the fire, or snore, then you can bet your bottom dollar that it's gonna rain! I’m literally staring at my fur babies, Kevin and Gary right now while I write this, trying to predict tomorrow’s weather. Hold on. Wait for it. Yup. One of them just licked his balls. It’s gonna be sunny with clear skies til Friday. Exactly what I thought. 

And if all this seems like hogwash, then just open up the weather app on your phone. It's probably way easier.

All this Groundhog talk got me thinking about faux furs. At our next business meeting, should I bring up us making a SpiritHoods Brown Ultra Soft faux fur coat complete with hood, ears and two very large front teeth? 

Hmmmmmmmmmm...

It's either BRILLIANT. Or I'm gonna be met with blank stares. 

And if you’re one of those wildcats that like to get their freak on at a Groundhog Day festival, then you BEST be sending us pictures @SpiritHoods

We NEED to see you and Phil celebrating. And listening to speeches. You HAVE to send us pictures of you listening to speeches.

And if you have pictures of you doing all this in SpiritHoods, then even better.

In fact, everyone that sends us pictures celebrating Groundhog Day (listening or not listening to speeches) in their SpiritHoods will get a free faux fur Bunny keychain!

Maybe next year, we'll have faux fur Groundhog keychains?

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