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  • The History of Groundhog Day

    Mr. Murray's 7th Grade Students
    Dolphin Senior Public School
    Mississauga, Ontario
    rodmurr@astral.magic.ca

    The Legend

    According to legend, on February the 2nd, the groundhog will come out of its burrow. If the sun is shining and the groundhog sees its shadow and then goes back in the burrow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If the day is cloudy and the groundhog doesn't see its shadow, it will stay above ground and spring will come early. Some people claim that watching for groundhogs is a very reliable way of predicting the end of winter. However, scientists say groundhogs are only right about 30 per cent of the time for this legend.

    February the 2nd each year, according to rural American tradition, the groundhog leaves its burrow where it has been hibernating, and emerges to discover whether cold winter weather will continue. Groundhog Day is based on a custom that people brought from Germany and England. People believed animals could help forecast the weather.
    By Ashley Thomson

    Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
    Groundhog Capital

    Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is known for Groundhog Day. Each day on February 2nd, people from Punxsutawney wait to see what the groundhogs will do. Will the groundhogs stay above ground or will it go back into the burrow? The official groundhog forecast of Punxsutawney is announced through the U.S. Will the groundhog come out and stay or will it go back in? We are tired of ice, snow and our very cold weather. We wish the groundhogs could check the Internet so they would know it's time to stay out of their burrows so we can have an early spring.
    By Shivali Bedi

    Groundhog Day in Wiarton, Ontario

    There is a similar celebration in Wiarton, Ontario, Canada. Wiarton Willie, an Albino groundhog, comes out of his hole on February the 2nd. Wiarton Willie has a unfailing ability to correctly predict the rest of the winter. He maintains his trim figure with corn chips and salsa. The women may not find him handsome but, someone thought he was important enough to be carved in stone.
    By Sarah Hassall and Ashley Thomson

    Candlemas

    In Britain in the fifth century, the Christian festival of Candlemas replaced the Roman festival of Februa on February 2nd. The Christians added their own twist to the weather prediction: if Candlemas was fair, there would be two winters in a year. Although Christians did not completely believe this, tradition and myth did not fade completely.
    By Sarah Hassall

    Happy Hedgehog Day

    No, we're not going mad. Before the holiday known as groundhog day was around, people were celebrating Hedgehog Day. It all started when the Romans observed that the hedgehog hibernated, and originated the weather myth that if the hedgehog sees his shadow , it means that there will be six more weeks of cold winter weather. It was the light of the moon , not the sun, that created the hedgehog's shadow ( because the hedgehog only comes out at night).

    Over the next 15 centuries, the hedgehog myth gradually faded, although the hedgehog continued to appear in literature, coins, and later stamps.

    Even though the hedgehogs role as a weather predictor disappeared it reappeared in North America. As people emigrated to North America they substituted the spiny hedgehog with the new groundhog.
    By Darrell D'Aguilar