Spring is almost on its way! Ok, while that statement may seem a bit grandiose and optimistic, it is technically true. However, if you’re so riddled with frostbite and snow-laden driveways that you’re somewhat sceptical and pessimistic that the winter will end soon, there’s always the groundhog that can give you hope.
As we celebrate it today, here are some fun facts about Groundhog Day:
It has European roots
The genesis of Groundhog Day can be traced back to the medieval European tradition of Candlemas. On this day in early February, people would brighten up this dark period by lighting candles and keep an eye on the weather to ascertain whether spring was on its way. Many cultures subsequently adopted rhymes in line with Candlemas weather watching, with the most succinct one being a Scottish couplet that goes “If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year”.
A festival is held every February 2 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
The North American version of Candlemas is called Groundhog Day. It was started in the 18th and 19th centuries by German settlers living in the US in southeastern and central Pennsylvania. Every year on February 2, people gather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the festival, which was first held in 1888.
It really is all about a groundhog
During the festival, people excitedly await to see whether the groundhog will emerge from his burrow. If he doesn’t then this means there will be an early spring. If it sunny though and he sees his shadow, the groundhog will retreat back into his burrow, signalling there will be six more weeks of winter.
A groundhog wasn’t always used
While the groundhog is now the official animal used for the festival, this wasn’t always the case – at some point in time, a hedgehog was the animal used to predict whether there would be an early spring. Incidentally, hedgehogs aren’t related at all to groundhogs – they have different hibernation patterns and are actually more likely to emerge from hibernation in early February than groundhogs.
Canada only started the festival recently
We only started celebrating Groundhog Day in 1956 in Wiarton, Ontario. The Canadian edition only came about because a local resident wanted to throw a party for his friends and decide that Groundhog Day presented the perfect excuse to do so.
The day shall ever be associated with a certain film
For many people outside of North America, the phrase “Groundhog Day” is more associated with the 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The film’s plot revolves around self-centered weatherman sent to cover the annual activities in Punxsutawney who ends up in a time loop and having to repeat the dame day (Groundhog Day) over and over again. The film and its philosophical message have become so popular that in popular culture, “Groundhog Day is now referenced as an unpleasant situation or scenario that continually repeats.
While you’re waiting for the groundhog to emerge from its shadow, why not have some fun and play an online slot for real money at a true-blue Canadian online casino? Or, take some time to learn how to play free video poker.