Groundhog Day

Feb 01, 2015

February 2nd is Groundhog Day. Although nobody gets a day off school, this holiday is still worth mentioning. Critters, like the groundhog or woodchuck, normally don't have holidays named after them, so how was the groundhog chosen?

A Brief History

The roots of Groundhog Day go back to the 6th century. It began with the German myth that, by simply showing up, hibernating animals were able to predict when springtime came.

Groundhog Day is a big deal - look at the people!Groundhog Day is a big deal - look at the people!

It is also believed that if the groundhog comes out of its hole and sees its shadow, we are in store for 40 more days of winter. To see a shadow, the sun must be out and the groundhog has to look in the correct direction. This weather folklore began in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney Phil (the offical US groundhog) is only accurate about 26% of the time.

If this guy sees his shadow, it's one more month of winter for usIf this guy sees his shadow, it's one more month of winter for us

What's In a Name?

Woodchuck and groundhog are common names for the same animal, the rodent with the scientific name of Marmota monax. Most closely related to squirrels, woodchucks can actually climb trees and swim.

Groundhogs are also known as woodchucksGroundhogs are also known as woodchucks

Fast Facts About Woodchucks

Unlike beavers, these guys can't move timber, although some will chew on it. A wildlife biologist once measured the inside volume of a typical woodchuck burrow and estimated that - if wood filled the hole, instead of dirt - the industrious animal would have chucked about 700 pounds worth!

Have Your Say

What's your prediction for Groundhog Day? Will he see his shadow or not?

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Do You Believe in Groundhog Day?

  • Yes. I think the seasons change - or don't - because of groundhogs.
  • No. It's just a silly old wives tale.
  • I'm not sure.
  • I believe in Groundhog's Day only if it means an early spring!

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