Groundhog Day's journey from pagan holiday to pop culture phenomenon
Is like a trek through the center of the earth. How a flabby mammal
Of the frozen north come to be associated with the first signs of
Spring is a tale that spans centuries.
Feb. 2 is a day marked by pagans and other "earth spirits" as
Which heralds the return of the life-giving forces of spring. This
Season belongs to Brigid, the Celtic goddess who in later times
Became revered as a Christian saint.
The early church replaced the pagan occasion with Candlemas, which
Dedicated to the Virgin Mary and features candlelight processions.
The custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them
To the people.
The Teutonic peoples of Europe, after conversion to Christianity,
Clung to their superstition that if the sun made an appearance on
Candlemas Day, the earth-dwelling hedgehog would cast a shadow,
Predicting six more weeks of foul weather. A cloudy day portends an
Pennsylvania' s earliest settlers were Germans who found groundhogs
Great profusion. The New World woodchuck, as the dirt-moving
Groundhog is sometimes known, became an easy stand-in for the Old
World hedgehog. A new tradition was born.
Since Punxsutawney Phil's first incarnation in 1886 at a site known
As Gobbler's Knob, the annual arrival of the celebrated critter has
Grown every year. Now, tens of thousands of revelers await his
Appearance like fans along the red rope line at a Hollywood
The Texas-sized "groundhog" surrogate is a member of the world's
Largest rodent family, keepers say.
By TERRI JO RYAN Tribune-Herald staff writer
Groundhog Day Trivia
- All groundhogs have 22 teeth.
- Groundhogs hibernate one to a burrow, with at least two doorways.
- Males emerge earlier than females each spring.
- Groundhogs can lose 50 per cent of their body weight in hibernation. Their maximum size is 10 kilograms.
- They can both swim and climb trees, and have a top speed of 15 kilometres an hour.
- Groundhog Day was once celebrated by ancient Celts. It's halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox.
- Farrah Fawcett, Tom Smothers, James Joyce, Graham Nash, Christie Brinkley and Wiarton Willie's handler, Sam Brouwer were all born on Groundhog Day