No shady business, but a Groundhog Day quiz to make the spring come sooner
Since ancient times February has been the herald of spring, its weather giving people ideas on how soon they will be able to or when it will be reasonable to start sowing. The beginning of the month has always been known as the seasonal crossroads, as it is midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. February, 2, in particular, marked an early Christian observance called Candlemas Day. It was believed that if sun came out on that day, winter would last for 6 more weeks.
Nowadays February, 2 is also very important weather-wise. Adopted in Pennsylvania in 1887 due to the coming of German immigrants, Groundhog Day has brought the most anticipated weather forecast of the year ever since. Legend has it that if the weather-figure (or weather-rodent, which a groundhog is, to be more particular) comes out of its burrow to see its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. And if it doesn’t, spring will come very soon.
In fact, traditionally people watched for any hibernating animal, say a bear or a badger, to come out of its burrow and indicate the near end of winter. But since Pennsylvania was home to a large population of groundhogs, the German immigrants specified the species and named the day accordingly.
Of course, the weather forecast made by Punxsutawney Phil – the most famous weather-predicting rodent from Pennsylvania – is a superstition, but not without a grain of truth: when the winter sky is clear enough to let the sunshine make objects cast shadow, it is usually especially cold, because there is no protective cloud insulation.
Another logical, yet still surprising fact: groundhogs don’t leave their burrow to examine their shadow. They only come out to see if there is a mate nearby, and then they go back to sleep till March with peace of mind and knowledge of the exact location of a possible mate’s burrow. But Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t’ hibernate at all, because he lives in a man-made burrow that has temperature control.
Would you like to learn more interesting facts about Punxsutawney Phil and his co-weather-rodents or test your knowledge of the history of spring weather predictions? Then take our Groundhog Day quiz right now!