Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States as well in Canada. Every year early in the morning on February 2nd, millions of people turn on their TV's to watch a groundhog named Phil come out of hibernation. But why? What is so special about this groundhog and what's the deal with Groundhog Day?
The celebration we know today goes back to 1887, when some groundhog hunters suggested that they had a groundhog, whom they called Phil, that could correctly predict the weather. Soon after, a ceremony was born. But the tradition of Groundhog Day actually goes further back. The idea comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch, Germans who emigrated to the US during the 17th and 18th centuries. They believed in a superstition which taught that "if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring."
According to History.com the day also has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter.
In 1993, the movie Groundhog Day, which starred Bill Murray, helped to boost the popularity of this day. Now, the city of Woodstock, IL has its own celebration, and its own prognosticating groundhog named Willie. Why a celebration in Woodstock? Well, because back in 1992, the small town of Woodstock was transformed into Punxutawney, PA for the filming of the movie Groundhog Day. The fictional story about a TV weatherman named Phil who is forced to relive the events that take place on particular Groundhog Day many times over, is set in Punxutawney, PA. But for whatever reason, the producers decided to film the movie in Woodstock. So now, every year, Woodstock offers many groundhog activities throughout the day of February 2nd.
To read more about the Groundhog Day festivities in Woodstock, click here.
To learn more about groundhogs and the special occasion of Groundhog day, click here.
My name is Craig, and I've been teaching English for many years. I initially created this site for my students, but all English learners are welcome. I hope you find something helpful to you. Feel free to leave suggestions or ideas in the Comments section under any entry.