American Culture: The Legend of Groundhog Day
Today is February 2nd and any school kid will tell you it’s Groundhog Day! This is a holiday mostly recognized by the elementary school set, but it’s based on the tale of a groundhog. Every year in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania crowds gather to celebrate the night before the resident groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, makes his weather prediction every February 2nd.
In accordance with an old German lore (the earliest settlers of Pennsylvania), if the groundhog (a hibernating animal) sees its shadow when leaving its den, it is scared back into its hole and there will be six more weeks of winter. But if no shadow is cast, spring will come early! Seeing as Groundhog Day fell on the same Sunday as the Super Bowl (click here to learn more about it!), Phil’s announcer read his prediction a little differently today:
“A Super Bowl winner I will not predict, but my weather forecast you cannot contradict. That’s not a football lying beside me, it’s my shadow you see. So, six more weeks of winter it shall be!”
Elementary schools use Groundhog Day as a focus for art, reading, and writing projects all around the country. While Americans enjoy learning about Phil, his forecast is never taken too seriously. It is just some traditional fun! While I’m sure the rest of the country is disappointed to learn there will be six more weeks of winter due to the record cold and snowfalls that have occurred since December, California is excited to know there is some hope for cooler temperatures and maybe, just maybe a bit of rain!
So whether you’re hoping for an early spring, for winter to actually start, or if you’re out of the country and interested in some American myths enjoy Groundhog Day and bundle up!
Do you have any favorite myths, legends, or stories? What does your country/state/city celebrate still?
Still curious about Groundhog Day? Check out its website here!