Top 10 facts about
and there’s no Bill
Murray in sight
What is Groundhog Day all about?
Here is everything you need to know about one of the weirdest holidays
It’s Groundhog Day in America, but – apart from the Bill Murray film – what does that mean?
In fact, the spring celebration has nothing to do with living the same day on repeat.
We’ve brought together all you need to know about Groundhog Day in ten handy hints.
10. Groundhogs, otherwise known as woodchucks, are rodents. They are one of the few animals that do truly hibernate throughout the winter, often building special winter burrows for their winter sleep.
9. The legend goes that when the groundhog comes out of his burrow from hibernation, he will look for his own shadow.
If it is sunny and he sees it, he will take fright and go back into his hole. Winter will then carry on for another six weeks. If it is cloudy and he doesn’t see his shadow, then spring will arrive early.
8. The tradition began in Pennsylvania in 18th and 19th centuries. Based in ancient European weather lore where badgers were used to predict the length of winter.
7. The legend of Groundhog Day has been spotted in two old British songs. In a Scottish couplet, it says: “If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.”
In an English song: “If Candlemas be fair and bright, come, Winter, have another flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, go Winter, and come not again”
6. Every year on February 2, all across Pennsylvania there are early morning festivals to watch the groundhogs emerge from their burrows. Punxsutawney holds the biggest Groundhog Day celebration in America, where over 20,000 people attend each year.
5. In some areas there are German-Pennsylvanian Groundhog Lodges that hold big parties with traditional German food and skits. Pennsylvanian-German dialect is the only language allowed – if you speak in English you have to pay a small fine as punishment.
4. The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil, who has apparently been making predictions in Punxsutawney for over 125 years. Residents say that Phil is given a magical potion every year to give him long life.
3. The chosen groundhogs are kept in electric-heated burrows, and are said to utter their prediction in ‘groundhogese’ which is then ‘translated’ by a representative.
2. The groundhogs are looked after by the Inner Circle, which is a group of local dignitaries who are responsible for carrying out all of the Groundhog Day celebrations. They traditionally wear formal dress, including top hats, on Groundhog Day.
1. The accuracy of the groundhog predictions is a matter of dispute – some Pennsylvania residents say that the rodents are accurate up to 90% of the time, whereas some studies say they are accurate only 35% of the time.
By Alex Wynick