The Meaning of Groundhog Day

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By: Dustin Staples | dstaples1@radford.edu

On a particular day at the beginning of February, millions witness a groundbreaking day this year; that day is … Groundhog Day!

Every year on Feb. 2, our furry foe friend is waking up to millions of fans around 7:20 a.m., just outside of Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

The weather lore goes to say that if the groundhog sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter is on the horizon. If he does not see his shadow, which was the case this year, early spring is forecasted. As many were cheering on this wonderful news, others were not happy to hear this answer.

Some would say this is a silly way to predict how the remainder of winter will hold; others would argue and wonder how this tradition was started.

We have to go back to ancient times! According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, this tradition started as a Candlemas Day. It was a way to celebrate the halfway mark between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Other ways people in Europe celebrated this holiday was by bringing their candles to church on Feb. 2, thinking that it would bless them throughout the winter.

As the years went by, Germany is one country to take part in the yearly tradition. Instead of using a groundhog, a hedgehog is used to predict the forecast.

By 1886, the famous groundhog would make his appearance in a Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania newspaper, where the editor of the paper declared Punxsutawney Phil as America’s official weather-predicting groundhog.

The opinion of Groundhog Day is something that many Americans would consider their only weather source of believing in a long-range forecast. However, I think it is another way of seeing what people think about how a weather forecaster, like myself, say how inaccurate he is. 

I do think animals have an idea of forecasting weather events days away, but they lack in better data analysis due to the lack of computer models for animals.

Read other columns on The Tartan, including How to Cut Down on the Time Spent on your Phone.

Featured Image: (Stefaan on Pixabay)

Dustin Staples

I am the Weatherman for The Tartan, as well as ROC-TV and the Station Manager for RadioFreeRadford.com