Today is Groundhog Day. This day traditionally marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Will the groundhog see his shadow this year? What is the meaning of Groundhog Day … and why do we celebrate weather predictions from a plump marmot? I’m gonna tell you what The Old Farmer’s 2021 Almanac founded in 1792 has to say about it.
According to legend, if a groundhog sees its shadow on this day, there will be 6 more weeks of winter; if it doesn’t, then spring is right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but our weather has been so fickled that I don’t know if I’ll even trust Punxsutawney Phil of Philadelphia to decide whether we’re gonna have winter or spring this year.
This tradition began when the farmers needed to determine when to plant their crops, so they tried to forecast whether there would be an early spring or a lingering winter. Thus, the beginning of Candlemas (February 2nd.).
It wasn’t held as a good omen if the day itself was bright and sunny, for that betokened snow and frost to continue until the hiring of the laborers six week later. If it was cloudy and dark, warmth and rain would thaw out the fields and have them ready for planting.
Our Groundhog Day, as we know it, is a remote survivor of that belief.
For centuries farmers in France and England looked to a bear, while in Germany, they kept their eye on the badger. In the 1800’s, German immigrants in Pennsylvania brought the tradition with them. Finding no badgers there, they adopted the groundhog to fit the lore … thus, Punxsutawney Phil has announced spring’s arrival since 1887. Other groundhogs also have carrier on the tradition, including Ontario’s Wiarton Willie.
Though we recognize that animal behavior isn’t the only way to judge planting dates, the tradition continues, often with a wink and a smile.
So, will the groundhog in your neck of the woods see his shadow?
To one lucky winner, I will send them their choice of an eBook or trade size paperback of my third book in the Kasota Spring Series Out of a Texas Night.