Groundhog Day


Groundhog Day

***** Location: North America, Europe
***** Season: Late Winter (February 2)
***** Category: Observance


In 1723, the Delaware Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite halfway between the Allegheny and the Susquehanna Rivers. The town is 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, at the intersection of Route 36 and Route 119. The Delawares considered groundhogs honorable ancestors. According to the original creation beliefs of the Delaware Indians, their forebears began life as animals in "Mother Earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men.

The name Punxsutawney comes from the Indian name for the location "ponksad-uteney" which means "the town of the sandflies." The name woodchuck comes from the Indian legend of "Wojak, the groundhog" considered by them to be their ancestral grandfather.

When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day (Lichtmess), which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc. It came at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of Winter would be stormy and cold.

For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home. The day's weather continued to be important. If the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.

The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:

February 4, 1841 - from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris' diary..."Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog (Dachs) peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."

According to the old English saying:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

From Scotland:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.

From Germany:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.

And from America:

If the sun shines on Groundhog Day;
Half the fuel and half the hay

Pennsylvania's official celebration of Groundhog Day began on February 2nd, 1886 with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper's editor, Clymer Freas: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow." The groundhog was given the name "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary'' and his hometown thus called the "Weather Capital of the World.'' His debut performance: no shadow - early Spring.
The legendary first trip to Gobbler's Knob was made the following year.




The lowly groundhog, often called a woodchuck, is the only mammal to have a day named in his honor. The groundhog's day is February 2. Granted, it's not a federal holiday; nobody gets off work. But still, to have a day named after you is quite a feat.
How did the ground hog come by this honor?
We have read most of it already. Here is another nice link.


A page with songs of the Groundhog Day.

Away in a meadow all covered with snow
The little old groundhog looks for his shadow
The clouds in the sky determine our fate
If winter will leave us all early or late



.. .. .. Groundhog Day Photo Album


Worldwide use


Maria Lichtmess / Mariä Lichtmeß (Candlemas)
Fest der Darstellung des Herrn im Tempel

Farmers sayings about this day:

Scheint zu Lichtmess die Sonne heiß, gibt's noch viel Schnee und Eis.

Ist's an Lichtmess kalt, kommt der Frühling bald.

Lichtmess schön und trocken, muss der Winter lange hocken.

Wenn der Nebel zu Lichtmess fallt, wird's gewöhnlich sehr lange kalt.

Wenn an Lichtmess der Dachs seinen Schatten sieht, er noch 4 Wochen in seinen Bau flieht.
(If the Groundhog sees his shadow, he will run back to his hole for another four weeks.)

Wenn die Bienen vom Baum aus keine Wolke sehen am Lichtmesstag, werden die Bienenvölker besonders gut.

Many more local German lore about every month.

"Sonnt sich der Dachs in der Lichtmeßwoche,
bleibt er vier Wochen noch im Loche."
(If the groundhog is sunbathing in the week of the candlemass, he will stay in his hole for another four weeks.)

Two from Horst Ludwig, February 2014:

Hellere Sonne
über der Weite des Schnees. —
Mariä Lichtmeß

The brighter sun
above the expanse of the snow. —
Mary's Candlemass.

- source : tageshaiku.blogspot.jp

My graceful daughters
coming down the stairs after
Mary's Candlemass.

Anmutig die Töchter
die Kirchenstufen herab
nach Mariä Lichtmeß.

- source : tageshaiku.blogspot.jp



seishokusai 聖燭祭 (せいしょくさい) Candlemass
..... shu no hooken 主の奉献(しゅのほうけん)
Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

Things found on the way

Play the Groundhog Day Word Search Puzzle!

When do the Seasons begin?


Groundhog Day --
my first son came out
into the cold

"chibi" (pen-name for Dennis M. Holmes)


dragging its shadow
back to the den---
a sleepy groundhog

Ed Schwellenbach


Haiku and arrangement : Linda Papanicolaou
Photo credit: US Dept. of Environmental Protection

Related words

***** Couple’s Day (fuufu no hi, Japan) .. .. February 2





Anonymous said...

ground hog day...
sharing a sausage
with friends

~Vaughn Seward

Gabi Greve said...

. Read more Haiku by John Daleiden, February 2006 .


Gabi Greve said...

fry pancakes,
a penny in the hand ?


frire des crêpes,
un sou dans la main ?


Marcel Peltier (Belgium)
February 2006


Bill said...

groundhog day
trying not to think
of spring

groundhog day
my shadow one of many
shades of gray

--Bill Kenney

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