Groundhog Day Qs? RTs to the Rescue!

February 2 is fast approaching, and you know what that means: That auspicious and meteorologically sound event that will forecast the weather between the Super Bowl and Easter.

I’m talking about Groundhog Day, of course. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow, spring will come early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its home, signaling an addition six weeks of winter.

Clouds = warm; sun = cold; Perfectly reasonable conclusion.

But where did this myth and its ensuing tradition begin? I’m glad you probably asked that.
Because to find those answers, you need only consult eLibrary–and more specifically, the Research Topic on Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day
RTs are great for your one-stop shopping. They showcase a variety of content to provide a user with an excellent overview on a given topic. But what if the answers you find lead to more questions, as is often the case in research? Fear not. eLibrary’s catalog of Research Topics is growing every day (7700+ and counting!). If you want to know something, chances are, there’s an RT for that.

A groundhog

Not really a “hog”

Let’s start with the groundhog itself. Is it really a hog?

Well, as the associated RT can tell you, the groundhog (Marmota monax)—a.k.a. woodchuck, whistle-pig, or land-beaver—is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots.

Ok. But how did they get associated with weather prediction?

Actually, many believe the tradition originated with Candlemas.

Festival of Candlemas

The Festival of Candlemas

In the United States, Candlemas coincides with Groundhog Day. And the RT on this Christian festival will point you to this early reference, found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:

Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog 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.

—4 February 1841, from the dairy of Pennsylvania storekeeper James Morris’ diary

So is Pennsylvania at the epicenter of Groundhoggery?

Perhaps. At least it is today. The already popular tradition received widespread attention as a result of the 1993 film Groundhog Day, which was set in Punxsutawney and portrayed Punxsutawney Phil. The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, PA. To learn more about the Keystone State, check out the RT.

Groundhog Day, huh? And who was in that?

Bill Murray

Wait–It’s not “Gopher Day”

Bill Murray. He plays an egocentric weatherman who keeps living the same events over and over again. Did I mention we have an RT on him? No? Well, you probably guessed as much by now.

At any rate, happy researching with eLibrary’s comprehensive collection Research Topics.

And Happy Whistle-Pig Day!

Latest posts by Erick Sinkhorn (see all)

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply