Most of us probably know the gist of Groundhog Day—it’s Feb. 2, and whether or not the groundhog sees its shadow indicates whether or not winter weather will persist or spring weather will begin. However, have you ever wondered where such a random holiday originated, or what all the hype was about? Look no further.
The first (official) Groundhog Day took place in 1887 when a newspaper claimed that Phil, the groundhog of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, was the only weather-predicting groundhog.
Groundhog Day was adapted from the early Christian tradition of Candlemas, when, at the start of winter, clergymen would give out blessed candles, which represented the length and severity of the season ahead.
The Germans added to this tradition and used a hedgehog as a symbol for weather prediction.
When German settlers came to America (Pennsylvania, specifically), they continued their tradition, but adapted the tradition to groundhogs because they were far more common in the area.
Thousands of tourists visit Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every year to see the “decision” of world-famous Punxsutawney Phil.
You can buy apparel, souvenirs and other ~official~ Groundhog Day merchandise at this website.
The Groundhog Club hosts a variety of events, in addition to the three-day celebration of Groundhog Day, throughout the year to promote Punxsutawney Phil and the area around Gobbler’s Knob. These events include Hogtoberfest, Gobbler’s Knob Wine Festival, Phil’s Trick or Trot 5K and more.
The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” gave currency to the term “groundhog day” to mean something that is repeated again and again, and tourists are eager to see Phil’s prediction each year.
Towns across North America have their own Groundhog Day celebrations and even their own groundhogs, but many consider Punxsutawney Phil to be the OG.
*Facts are taken from the History Channel and the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club websites.