Had your “PHIL” of Winter Yet ?

Had your PHIL of Winter Yet ?

     Groundhog’s Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that has been around for centuries.  Its origins were started in cultures where different animals were awakened from hibernation on specific dates. It seems as though nature has always influenced our lives. Groundhog’s Day is the day that the groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter’s sleep to look for his shadow.

     If the groundhog sees his shadow, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy and, therefore, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

     The groundhog tradition started from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe. For centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. It marked an important milestone in the winter and the weather conditions that day were important. According to the myths associated with Candlemas, if the weather was sunny, there would be an extended period of winter. An old poem stated, “If Candlemas be fair and bright, come, winter, have another flight; if Candlemas brings clouds and rain, go winter, and come not again.”

     The Romans eventually spread this belief to the Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the “Second Winter.”

     Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers were Germans .They determined that the groundhog most closely resembled the hedgehog. They believed that the groundhog was an intelligent animal and decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.

     All of these past events have led us to the modern Groundhog’s Day, where the nation observes “Punxsutawney Phil” in Pennsylvania on February 2nd.