Tuesday Trivia: What does the groundhog say?

J. H. Osborne • Jan 29, 2019 at 5:45 PM

Groundhog Day is coming up Saturday, Feb. 2. So for this week's Tuesday Trivia, we're taking a look at Groundhog Day's origins and the weather forecast for the rest of winter, according to the Farmers' Almanac.

• Groundhog Day also is known as Candlemas Day and has its roots in the Pennsylvania "Dutch" (German) tradition.

• According to folklore: If the groundhog emerges from its burrow and doesn't see his shadow (a cloudy day), then spring will come early; if it is sunny and the groundhog sees his shadow, then winter will persist for six more weeks.

• Punxsutawney Phil, from Pennsylvania, is considered North America’s most famous groundhog. But other well-known groundhogs include: Staten Island Chuck in New York City; General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta; Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh, North Carolina.; Pardon Me Pete in Tampa, Florida; Octoraro Orphie in Quarryville, Pennsylvania; and Buckeye Chuck in Ohio.

• Punxsutawney Phil is the focal point of the oldest and largest annual Groundhog Day celebration, held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, every year since 1886.

The History of Groundhog Day

"The date of the celebration coincides with the medieval feast of Candlemas, and its pre-Christian predecessor, Imbolc, a day that is also rich in folklore. An old Scottish prophecy foretells that sunny weather on Candlemas means a long winter."

From Hedgehogs to Groundhogs

"Ancient Europeans had long held that badgers and hedgehogs could foretell the weather, and came to combine this belief with the rituals surrounding Candlemas. After emigrating to Southeastern Pennsylvania, early German-American settlers substituted groundhogs, which were plentiful in their new homeland."

Will Spring Come Early in 2019?

Farmers’ Almanac’s long-range weather forecasts are not based on folklore but rather a set of rules that take many astronomical and mathematical factors into consideration. This year's winter outlook  from the Farmers' Almanac predicts "a very frigid mid-February which may bring blustery and bitter winds and widespread snow showers, especially to zones 1, 2, and 3. Spring weather will not be arriving anytime soon. Mid-March could be stormy virtually coast to coast, bringing snow, sleet, and/or rain as well as strong and gusty winds to many areas. In particular, we are red-flagging March 20–23 for a potent East Coast storm that could deliver a wide variety of wintry precipitation just as we are making the transition from winter to spring."

Source: The Farmers' Almanac

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