February 2 is the day those of us in the northern climes of North America anticipate in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. Will the groundhog see his shadow? Will winter end early or will we endure another 6 weeks of freezing temperatures, snow and ice?
What Does the Groundhog Have to Do with Spring?
The history of Groundhog Day in the US is traced back to Pennsylvania Germans during the 18th and 19th centuries. The groundhog, which the German immigrants thought to be quite similar to the European hedgehog, who would fortell the weather on Candlemas Day. The Germans would recite:
For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.
The groundhog, being a sensible animal, would venture forth if he saw no shadow, which foretold an early spring. Seeing a shadow would cause the wise groundhog to return to his warm burrow for 6 more weeks of hibernation.