International Observance: It’s Groundhog Day

Photo in public domainTHURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2: Will the groundhog see his shadow this year?

And—pssst!—if your main memories of “Groundhog Day” involve visions of comedian Bill Muray in his hilarious prime, then you’ll be pleased to learn that copies of the classic Murray comedy Groundhog Day in Blu-ray and DVD are available on Amazon, usually for around $10 a copy. Care to see it again? Care to see it again? Care to …

OK, back to semi-serious holiday news: Across the U.S. and Canada—and particularly in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the hub for Groundhog Day—people will be asking the question: How many weeks of winter ware left? Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow today, six more weeks of winter are in store; if the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early. Wikipedia has details.

Although few take the official “Punxsutawney Phil” seriously today, this tradition sprang up long ago—when people heavily relied on the course of nature in their lives. It’s believed the Roman legions first brought the groundhog legend to the Germans, and the Germans would later settle in Pennsylvania amid an abundance of groundhogs. This tradition also dates back to the widespread use of the Julian calendar, in which the spring equinox fell six weeks after Feb. 2—the exact number of weeks involved in the groundhog’s “predictions.” (Kids can get craft ideas, puzzles and more at Kaboose.)

Punxsutawney Phil will have plenty of company today, as tens of thousands flock to his hometown for celebrations. (See a photo of Phil in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.) Groundhog Lodges will host parties with ethnic food, speeches and plays, where only Pennsylvania German dialect is allowed inside; the Man and Woman of the Year For Punxsutawney are announced each year, as well. ( has more.)

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