Predicting the Weather on Groundhog Day

February 2 is Groundhog Day. This tradition first appeared in America in 1887 at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In American folklore, if the groundhog sees its shadow after coming out of its burrow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If the groundhog does not see its shadow, there will be an early spring. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, rather a fun tradition to break up the monotony of the winter season. American Groundhog Day can trace its origins from ancient Germany and the holiday of Candlemas, which used badgers to predict the weather. The tradition was brought over to America when German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania. You can watch the live stream of the Groundhog Day Ceremony at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where Punxsutawney Phil makes his prediction.

Folklore Facts

  • Groundhogs are also known as: woodchuck, marmot, land beaver, whistler, whistle-pig.
  • Groundhog Day falls halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal/spring equinox.
  • Punxsutawney Phil got his name in the 1960s.
  • The “Inner Circle”, wearing formal suits and top hats, are responsible for interpreting Phil’s prediction.
  • Phil doesn’t need to see his shadow, rather he has to cast one.
  • Phil has a 39% accuracy rate when predicting six more weeks of winter.
  • Phil has a 47% accuracy rate when predicting an early spring.

The Reader’s Theatre: Holidays resource from our sister site, Rainbow Horizons Publishing, features a play and relevant questions dealing with Groundhog Day. Conduct an investigation into three prominent groundhogs used for the event. Conduct research into hibernation. Watch the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and write a review of it. Create silhouettes to mimic shadows, and a game using a cup, paint and popsicle sticks. Download these free activity pages to complete your Groundhog Day celebrations.

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