The Bizarre History of Groundhog Day
Every year, Americans in snowy states wait with bated breath to see whether Punxsutawney Phil will spot his shadow. And every year, we take Phil’s weather forecast – six more weeks of winter, or an early spring? – as gospel, meteorology be damned.
It’s about as strange (and cute) as holidays get. So how did Groundhog Day go from a kooky local tradition to an annual celebration even those of us who don’t worry about winter can find the fun in?
We explore Groundhog Day’s origins from a tiny event to an American holiday we can all be proud of. Spoiler: there are badgers, immortality and at least one groundhog on the menu.
Groundhog Day was originally celebrated with … a badger?
Every February 2, the members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club trek to Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney Phil’s official home just outside of town. Donning top hats and tuxedos, the group waits for Phil to leave his burrow, and if he sees his shadow, the town gets six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, Punxsutawney gets an early spring.
But the early seeds of the Groundhog Day we know today were planted thousands of years ago, according to Dan Yoder, a folklorist “born and raised in the Groundhog Country of Central Pennsylvania” who penned the definitive history of the folk holiday turned national tradition.
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