Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor
Kelsey Brady, Campus Carrier asst. features editor
Each year on Feb. 2, a groundhog emerges from its burrow to predict if there will be six more weeks of winter or early spring. According to History.com, if the groundhog sees its shadow and retreats back into the burrow, then the weather forecast will remain cold and chilly. However, according to tradition, if the animal does not see its shadow then springtime is just around the corner.
Groundhog Day is believed to have religious associations because Feb. 2 tends to be a significant day for many religions since it falls between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, according to History.
According to History, the Celts celebrated it as Imbolc which is a pagan festival that marked the beginning of spring.
The holiday as it is now, began officially began on Feb. 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Clymer Freas, a local newspaper editor, began the tradition of the holiday at a site called Gobbler’s Knob.
Now, Gobbler’s Knob is home to the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, who serves as the season forecaster. Tens of thousands of spectators visit Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day events each year, History said.
In 2018, Berry held its own Groundhog Day celebration. According to Allie Pritchett from Viking Fusion archives, the animal was named Professor Hermann Hog who predicted six more weeks of winter when it saw its shadow.
According to Allie Pritchett from Viking Fusion archives, the prediction was announced nationwide on Friday after Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.
Professor Hermann Hog has not since visited the campus since 2018 because the holiday has fallen on the weekend. Currently, College President Steve Briggs said that there are not any plans for Professor Hermann Hog to revisit Berry.
The are many myths and misconceptions that surround Groundhog Day because of the many countries interpretations to how the holiday should be celebrated. For example, some states in America have created their own customs while partaking in festivities. According to PennLive, Live Science and National Geographic, below are some varying holiday celebration practices.
- Punxsutawney Phil is not the only special groundhog capable of predicting the weather. General Beauregard Lee is found in Lilburn, Georgia, and other places have their own groundhogs.
- In portions of Pennsylvania that still have a strong dutch presence, speaking English is not allowed, and breaking this rule will cost the offender, usually only a nickel or dime.
- Groundhog Day finds its origins in an ancient Christian tradition known as Candlemas. The tradition said that clear skies on Candlemas Day meant there was cold weather to come.
FACTS (National Geographic):
- Groundhogs are the largest members of the squirrel family.
- Groundhogs are mammals! They are warm-blooded animals with fur.
- The average weight of groundhog is 13 lbs.
- As an herbivore, leaves, grass and garden foods such as berries and apples are among some of a groundhog’s favorite food.
- “Woodchuck” is another name for a groundhog.
- Groundhogs, or woodchucks, are capable tree climbers and swimmers.