By Heather Durham | February 1, 2021
GROUNDHOG DAY – February 2, 2021
February 2 is the pivot point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, Groundhog Day. The largest celebration in the U.S. is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where the folklore has it that their groundhog(woodchuck), named Punxsutawney Phil, emerges from hibernation on either a sunny day when he may be able to see his shadow or a cloudy day during which time, poor Phil won’t be able to see his shadow. Accordingly, if Phil sees his shadow, we can expect six more weeks of winter, otherwise spring is on it’s way.
2021 brings us to the 135th year of their celebration which usually draws about 40,000 people. This year during our Covid pandemic, Punxsutawney Phil will be wearing a mask like the others in attendance. No fans will be allowed to attend and the others will be socially distant while the celebration will be held inside behind closed doors.
Regardless, you will be able to view this year’s events by clicking on the following: Groundhog Day 2021 Livestream, Punxsutawney, PA (Begins at 6:30 AM).
GROUNDHOG DAY HISTORY
There are several cultures that celebrate this time of year. Our traditions stem from the Pennsylvania Dutch who immigrated from German speaking countries of Europe. For Christians, February 2, also begins the celebration of Candlemas which is most widely known as a Catholic as well as Lutheran festival who accepted the same folklore as Groundhog Day. For the Celts, it meant looking forward to the birth of farm animals along with crop planting- time of Imbolc. There was a belief that bears and badgers came out of hibernation on this day during the Middle Ages. Many celebrations around the world occur on this date.
Victor Hugo, in “Les Misérables,” (1864) discussed the day as follows:
“…it was the second of February, that ancient Candlemas-day whose treacherous sun, the precursor of six weeks of cold, inspired Matthew Laensberg with the two lines, which have deservedly become classic: ‘Qu’il luise ou qu’il luiserne, L’ours rentre en sa caverne.’
[Let it gleam or let it glimmer, The bear goes back into his cave]” (Hugo, 1864).
At this point, you are probably wondering how Groundhog Day became so popular here, especially in Pennsylvania. Well, the city editor of a publication named Punxsutawney Spirit, Clymer H. Freas, became deeply intrigued by a group of groundhog hunters during the 1880’s. He repeated the folklore every year and embellished it to promote Punxsutawney Phil as the great long range weather forecaster. These stories were told in other newspapers and publications to such an extent that Punxsutawney Phil and his predictions became known throughout the world.
Breyer, Melissa. (2018, October 11). Punxsutawney Phil Is Correct Only 52 Percent of the Time. Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/punxsutawney-phil-correct-only-percent-time-4848611
Gunther, Shea. (2020, January 31). 6 Things Most People Don’t Know About Groundhog Day. Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/things-most-people-dont-know-about-groundhog-day-4862460
Holiday Insights. (2021). Groundhog Day 2021. Retrieved from http://www.holidayinsights.com/other/ghog.htm
Hugo, Victor. “Les Misérables.” Trans. Fahnestock and MacAfee, based on Wilbour. Signet Classics, NY, 1987. p. 725.
McLendon, Russell. (2020, January 31). Why Do We Celebrate Groundhog Day? Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/why-do-we-celebrate-groundhog-day-4862765
VisitPA. (2021, January 25). Groundhog Day 2021. Retrieved from https://www.visitpa.com/article/groundhog-day
VisitPA. (2021, February 2). Groundhog Day 2021 Livestream. Retrieved from https://www.visitpa.com/live-stream-phils-prediction
Wikipedia. (2021, January 29). Groundhog Day. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day