Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ground Hog Day 2011

Tomorrow, February 2 is Ground Hog Day. I always wondered if this was just a local tradition here in North America, if it was known elsewhere and what the origins of this funny little event were. I guess watching the old movie of the same name staring Bill Murray (aside which was filmed in lovely Niagara on the Lake, Ontario) is what really got me thinking about this.

Anyhow , this post obviously has nothing to do with the Cheapest Places to Live or the Best Places to Retire but I felt like blogging about it anyways!

Groundhog Day is a tradition thats seems to take place just in the U.S. and Canada these day. It's folklore that observes the Ground Hog on the morning of February 2nd to see what he does. It goes that if the day is cloudy when pokes his head from his burrow, then he will coem out. This act signifies the end of winter and an early spring. On the other hand if it's sunny then the 'Ground Hog will see its own shadow', which will scare it back into the burrow. This act signifies a longer winter - that winter weather will stick around for six more weeks.

The traditions surrounding this departure and distraction from the long dark winter has grown to include different celebrations. Typically early breakfast morning festivals are held to observe the groundhog coming out of his burrow. The celebration in Pennsylvania at Grundsow Lodges is a well known Ground Hog Day event in the United States where townsfolk celebrate with a breakfast feast, speeches, and entertainment. The largest Groundhog Day celebration is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Here the Ground Hog himself is called Punxsutawney Phil. In Canada Wiarton, Ontario is home for Wiarton Willy.

This tradition actually started as a Pennsylvania German custom in the 18th century and had its origins in ancient European. Then weather lore would have it that a badger or sacred bear rather than a groundhog was the bearer of good or bad news.

Well, tomorrow we will check in to see what Willy and Phil have to say about this so far extreme and long winter!

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