Groundhog Day is celebrated every year in the US on February 2nd. On that day, the most important happening is to watch groundhogs appearing from their burrows. Supposedly, if the groundhog sees its shadow (on a sunny day) then the groundhog will get scared and dive back into its burrow and winter will last for another six weeks. However, if the groundhog cannot see its shadow (on a cloudy day) then the spring season will arrive early.
Can groundhogs predict the weather? In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania they believe so and make a big holiday of the event. Dressed in 1800s clothing, officials hold ceremonies and according to Wikipedia, the celebrations draw crowds up to 40,000.
The origins of Groundhog Day are a little unclear, but likely, the tradition was brought over from Europe, perhaps with early settlers. February 2nd is also the Christian celebration of Candlemas and although a religious holiday, a poem from England shows that the weather was also watched on that day:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
Since many Christian holidays can be matched with pagan holidays (pre Christian holidays) Wikipedia also notes that February 2nd was also a Celtic festival marking the turning of the seasons.
All the holidays seem to point to the same thing: when will spring arrive? We all start asking that at this time of year!
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